Career Advice, In the News

Unemployment Benefits Extended: Good News But A Band-Aid Solution

The unemployed received some good news today – Congress passed legislation to extend unemployment benefits to people who have been out of work for six months or more, and President Obama later this afternoon signed off on the bill. This means that the 2.5 million people whose benefits expired at the beginning of June will be able to receive retroactive payments, and a total of 5 million Americans will be eligible for payments through December 31, 2010.

How will the benefits extension impact the economy and those unemployed job seekers? While Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke noted an “unusually uncertain” economic recovery, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expects the extension will help spur spending and inject much needed money into the economy and that this will help generate more jobs.

As Rusty Rueff, Glassdoor career and workplace expert advises, “Do not think we are out of the woods yet.” According to a recent Glassdoor Employment Confidence Survey, less than half (45%) of employees surveyed report that their company’s outlook will improve in the next six months.  While company outlook has improved, 39% of employees expected improvement this time last year, many are still wary about their employer’s future. In fact, one out of ten (10%) employees expect their company outlook to worsen in the coming months.

The survey also showed that 74% of employees note that their career has been impacted in the last two years. Of these, more than one-third (37%) say their raise or bonus has been smaller or eliminated, and 31% note they have taken on more work without compensation. So for job seekers, concessions may need to be made in order to find work, and salary expectations will need to be adjusted to a ‘new normal.’

One-third (34%) of those unemployed but looking for work already note they would be willing to take a more junior job for less pay. If a skilled worker takes a junior job, that leaves less-qualified candidates, i.e., recent high school or college graduates, without a starter level position, creating intense competition and a viscous cycle for those trying to break into a job or career.

The extension of jobless benefits is a positive step to help keep many American families afloat while looking for a permanent position, but it still means the job market is likely to remain highly competitive in the coming months. As we hear from employees and job seekers on Glassdoor, researching salary packages in today’s market is valuable when pricing your skills and experience for a job opportunity at hand.  While it’s good the government is taking action to help those negatively impacted by the economy, this should be a warning sign to job seekers and employees that now is an especially critical time to get more informed about jobs, companies and what’s fair in this market.