Debunking Myths about Unemployment

Since the economic crisis began, many women who have never been homeless before are coming to our doors for assistance. For many of them, losing their jobs or having their hours cut eventually led to homelessness. Here at Calvary, we are proud of our success in helping women get back on track. 60% of the women at Calvary have been employed this year, compared to 20% of all people who are homeless city-wide in D.C.

With word “unemployment” all over the news nowadays, and with so many numbers and facts floating around, we want to set the record straight and clear up some common misconceptions about unemployment.

  • Myth 1: The unemployment statistics you hear on the news tell you everything you need to know.

Fact: While the reported unemployment rate last month was 9.6% (that’s 14.9 million people), it is important to realize that this number is not necessarily comprehensive. There are certain groups of people with unique employment situations that do not fit into the traditionally defined category of “unemployed.” For instance, the official statistics do not reflect those who have given up searching for a job, nor do they include individuals who may have taken early retirement to avoid being laid off. This August, there were also an additional 8.9 million people who were “underemployed” – working a seasonal job or only part-time – when they would prefer to be working a full-time position. If employment statistics were inclusive of all types of unemployed individuals, that 9.6% would in fact be much higher! To see in-depth statistics from the Department of Labor, check out this link:

  • Myth 2: Unemployment benefits are based on how much you need.

Fact: The amount a person receives for unemployment depends entirely on the wages they previously received. Unemployment benefits are only a percentage of person’s former earnings, up to a certain weekly maximum that varies from state to state. It is important to realize that all unemployment income is also taxable.

  • Myth 3: Receiving unemployment benefits makes people less likely to find a job, or people on unemployment are “lazy” and don’t want to work.

Fact: Since unemployment is only a portion of a person’s former wages, they rarely cover all living expenses. Unemployment benefits are for people who were terminated or laid-off from their previous job through no fault of their own. To receive unemployment benefits, they must be available and physically able to work and more importantly, must continue actively looking for a job in order to be eligible. If someone is unable to work due to a physical impairment or other medical reason, they are cannot receive unemployment – they must request disability benefits instead.

  • Myth 4: To file a claim, you have to stand in a long unemployment line.

Fact: While that may have been the case years ago, nowadays it is possible in most states to file for unemployment online or over the phone. If you are interested in learning about eligibility for unemployment here in D.C., or need to file a claim, take a look at the Department of Employment Services website:

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