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Should You Work Part Time While Looking for a Full Time Job?

Updated on February 21, 2013
Money Can Be Hard to Come by in the Aftermath of the Great Recession
Money Can Be Hard to Come by in the Aftermath of the Great Recession | Source

For most of the period since the end of World War II, the American employment landscape has been quite solid. Unemployment rates of over 6 or 7 percent have been the exception rather than the rule. Rates of 4 or 5 percent have been much more common.

In the past five years, after the Great Recession, employment levels have not come anywhere near what they were prior to the tanking of the economy. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 12.3 million people unemployed in January 2013. This number of people does not include people who are considered underemployed.

What to Do When Unemployed

Those who are unemployed should file for unemployment insurance. Some people will look at this as a form of welfare, but employers pay into this fund for every worker they employ. The benefits are likely to be substantially less than a worker could expect to earn from the job that was just lost, but they provide some income in the interim.

Unemployment compensation comes with some stipulations, however. Those who expect to maintain their unemployment benefits have to show that they are actively searching for work on a weekly basis by listing potential employers that they have contacted for work. Looking for work should be the next thing that people do when they lose a job.

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Should an Unemployed Person Take Part-Time Work

The common thought is that someone should take any type of work when it is offered. Beggars can't be choosy, after all. However, it is possible that a part-time job might actually be a worse deal that unemployment. Some people who have stayed on unemployment are not lazy, they are just not stupid.

Over, in most states, the average unemployment pay is between $200 and $400 per week. This is definitely not going to allow most people to live high on the hog. It does, however, allow them to live in between jobs. The recession has made it likely that people will make less in their new job than they did in their old job.

There are jobs available. Just about any time that someone goes into McDonald's or WalMart, there are advertisements in the store for employment opportunities. These jobs are frequently part-time at a low wage, however. Many people are forced into the decision of continuing to get unemployment or taking a McJob that might not offer as much in the way of financial benefit.

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In Theory a Person Should Take the Part-time Job

In theory, it is advisable to take the part-time job to earn money. It is frequently said that it is easier to get a job if you have a job. Employers might look more favorably on a job-seeker who has been working part-time at what many would consider a menial job while trying to ride out the rough times than they would someone who has been on unemployment for going on two years. This makes sense.

However, it may not make financial sense for the person involved. If unemployment is paying out $300 per week, and a job at a local fast food joint is paying $7.25 for 20 hours per week, a person would have to think long and hard about taking the job if they had a family to support. This is not laziness. It is an economic necessity. If the part-time job offered a chance at quick advancement or if it offered a good per-hour pay, it would definitely be worth looking into.

Some states offer partial unemployment to make up some of the difference, so it may still pay off to take the part-time work because of the fact that it will look good to prospective employers. Of course, those who are unemployed should look into the law in their individual state to see what their specific situation might entail.


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