Dealing with Unemployment

So many Americans today are being faced with the stresses and turmoil of unemployment.  With the economy in a serious recession, hundreds of thousands of people are finding themselves without jobs and struggling to get by.  In fact, since the recession began in late 2007, an estimated 3.6 million jobs have been lost. 

Being faced with unemployment can be frightening, but there are many steps you can take to keep yourself afloat while you’re finding a new job.

Video: Job Losses Worst Since 1974

The first step is to apply for unemployment benefits.  Qualifying terms vary by state, but there are a number of criteria that, generally speaking, are similar from state to state.  You are most likely eligible to collect unemployment benefits if you have been laid off for lack of work or no fault of your own.  If you were fired, voluntarily quit, or are on a leave of absence from your job, it will most likely be up to the unemployment office to determine whether or not you will qualify for some kind of assistance.  To collect benefits, you must also (generally) be physically able to work, available to work, and actively seeking employment during the time you will be receiving support.  For more specific information regarding your qualifications, you should contact your state workforce services department or other branch that manages unemployment insurance and benefits.

unemployment

Unemployment Earnings and Taxes

Once you’ve qualified to receive unemployment compensation, the amount of your weekly benefits will be based on how much you were paid by all of your employers prior to the loss of your job.  So, the more money you made, the greater your benefit amounts will be (up to the maximum allotted by law).  The length of time for which you can collect unemployment benefits again varies by state, but many offer benefits for upwards of 6 months upon filing.  With regards to taxes, you will have to claim the unemployment benefits you receive on both your federal and state income taxes.  Many states offer to automatically withhold the taxes from your weekly benefit checks, which will ease the filing process when it comes around.

Video: How to Apply for Unemployment

Looking for New Job Opportunities

With so many dealing with unemployment, the job market is flooded by talented, qualified people seeking new jobs.  But there are many outlets through which you can start looking for new employment opportunities.  Besides the more traditional venues like newspapers, there are a plethora of good job search websites that can help direct you to openings in either your field, geographic location, or both.  These include usajobs.gov (for federal employment), indeed.com, monster.com, and hotjobs.com.  Even some social networking sites like MySpace offer connections to job postings and networks of peers in specific fields.  And despite these dour financial times, there are a number of industries and career fields that are still doing well despite the state of the economy.  Some of these include health care, education, food services, and utilities and energy firms.

State Unemployment Insurance Offices

South

Alabama: (866) 234-5382
Georgia: (404) 232-3990
Arkansas: (501) 907-2590
Florida: (800) 204-2418
Mississippi: (601) 321-6000
Tennessee: (877) 813-0950
North Carolina: (919) 707-1290
South Carolina: (866) 831-1724

Northeast

unemployment officeDelaware: (302) 761-6576 for New Castle residents or (800) 794-3032 for Kent & Sussex County residents
Massachusetts: (617) 626-6800
New Jersey: (732) 761-2020 for the Freehold Reemployment Call Center, (201) 601-4100 for the Union City Reemployment Call Center and (856) 507-2340 for the Cumberland Reemployment Call Center
New Hampshire: (603) 224-3311
Maine: (800) 593-7660
Maryland: (410) 949-0022 in the Baltimore area
Rhode Island: (401) 243-9100
Vermont: (802) 828-3657
Virginia: (804) 786-1485
West Virginia: (304) 558-2624

Pacific Northwest

Alaska: (907) 465-5552
Oregon: (800) 982-8920
Washington: (800) 318-6022

West

Arizona: (602) 542-4910
California: (800) 300-5616
Colorado: (303) 318-9000
Nevada: (775) 684-0350 in Northern Nevada, (702) 486-0350 in Southern Nevada
New Mexico: (505) 841-4000

Mid-West

Idaho: (208) 332-3570
Iowa: (515) 281-5387
Kansas: (913) 596-3500 in the Kansas City area, (785) 575-1460 in the Topeka area and (316) 383-9947 in the Wichita area
Missouri: (573) 751-3215
Montana: (406) 444-2545
North Dakota: (701) 328-4995
Oklahoma: (405) 557-7100
South Dakota: (605) 773-3101
Wisconsin: (608) 266-3100
Wyoming: (307) 235-3277