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How to file for unemployment and extended unemployment benefits

what are extended unemployment benefitsHow does emergency unemployment compensation work?

(Information as of 2012)With unemployment rising quickly in 2008 President George Bush signed a bill to approve the extension of federal unemployment compensation. That meant that the federal government would continue to provide money to dislocated workers who had exhausted their state benefits. The federal government breaks down levels of assistance into “tiers”. We started hearing about the “99ers”; people would qualify for 99 weeks of compensation. Many people wrongly assumed that anyone who was unemployed would receive 99 weeks of benefits. There are three important things to know about federal unemployment tiers and extended benefits.

The four tiers of emergency unemployment compensation

The first thing you want to understand is the number of tiers and the number of weeks assigned to each tier. As of this writing in late April 2011 there were 4 tiers, that are scheduled to be in effect, based on your state's unemployment rate, until January 3, 2012. Here are the numbers of weeks assigned to each Emergency Unemployment Tier:

EUC Tier I is for up to 20 additional weeks if you have exhausted regular UC benefits. This level is contingent on the phase out deadlines.
EUC Tier II is for up to 14 additional weeks and is contingent only on the phase out deadlines.
EUC Tier III is for up to 13 additional weeks if your state’s previous 3 month average is 6% or higher.
EUC Tier IV is for up to 6 additional weeks if your state’s previous 3 month average is 8.5% or higher.

This means that if you have exhausted your 26 weeks of state
unemployment benefits you are eligible to begin Tier 1 which would provide you up to 20 more additional weeks of compensation.

The second important factor is your own state’s unemployment rate. The reason you keep seeing the words “up to” is because these additional weeks of compensation are contingent on your state’s
unemployment rate, not just the country’s unemployment rate. You will be eligible for fewer tiers as your state's unemployment rate falls. Key milestones are at or above 8.5%, 6%-8.4%, and below 6%. For example, tiers will begin to phase out in your state as the unemployment rate moves from to 8.4% to and 5.9%. For example, Pennsylvania announced on March 14, that the three month average unemployment rate had fallen to 8.4%, thus the 6 weeks of Tier 4 benefits
were being eliminated as of April 2, 2011.

what are extended unemployment benefitsExtended unemployment benefits through your state

Thirdly, note that federal emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) is paid before state extended benefits (EB) are paid. EUC is a federal initiative. EB is a state initiative. If you have been unemployed long enough to exhaust your initial state benefits and then the various federal tiers of EUC, you may qualify for extended benefits through your state.

In Pennsylvania, for example, if you’ve gone through all the tiers of federal unemployment compensation, and the average unemployment in the state for the last three months has been 8% or higher, you will qualify for 20 more weeks of benefits, at the same rate you have been receiving. If the three month average was 6.5% to 7.99% you would receive 13 weeks. These benefits are paid from the state.

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry explained it this way in February 2011, “The Pennsylvania UC Law was recently amended to increase the maximum amount of EB a claimant may receive if Pennsylvania enters a ‘high unemployment period,’ or HUP. A HUP occurs when Pennsylvania’s total unemployment rate reaches 8 percent. Pennsylvania's total unemployment rate has risen to the level necessary to create a HUP.”

“As a result of the HUP, if you were financially eligible for 13 weeks of regular EB, your financial eligibility is increased to 20 weeks. If you were financially eligible for 8 weeks of regular EB, your financial eligibility is increased to 12.8 weeks." TQR

Resources, links, and articles regarding unemployment & extended unemployment benefits:
Commonly asked questions and answers about unemployment
How the unemployed are scarred economically
Recession and lingering affects on unemployed
Signs that unemployment is around the corner
News about unemployment benefit extensions
Another explanation of extended unemployment benefits
Unemployed job seekers and appearance
Unemployed job seeker success stories
Who can file for unemployment benefits
If you are unemployed you should check your credit rating
How extended  unemployment benefits can phase out
IRS tax benefits for the unemployed

Paying for tuition when unemployed
The Pell Grant
State tuition grants in PA
If you're unemployed consider the military
See how you score on the military's entrance test
Career Transition Center for the unemployed
Tuition reimbursement options for the unemployed
More tuition reimbursement options for unemployed
More tuition reimbursement for the unemployed

Unemployment challenges
Unemployment rates based on education

Start your own business when unemployed
Information on starting business in PA
Self-employment for those on unemployment benefits
What you should know about self-employment when unemployed

Resources available when collecting extended unemployment benefits
If you're collecting unemployment benefits you can get a 2nd free credit report
Employment Guide
Working at home is an option when you are unemployed
Unemployed in PA and need legal help?
Unemployed in Pittsburgh and need legal help?
If you are unemployed and need help with clothes for interviewing
Medical help for those collecting unemployment benefits
Energy assistance
Assistance with food purchases
Legitimate work at home options
Property tax relief for seniors in Allegheny County

Medical assistance when you file for unemployment
How to get discounted generic medicine
COBRA coverage for the unemployed explained
Free medicine from Pfizer

Articles of interest to those collecting unemployment benefits
Employers wary of hiring those on unemployment benefits
How unemployment can affect health
What to do if you are laid off
How volunteering makes sense when you're unemployed
Scholarships for those on unemployment
Mismatch between skills of the unemployed and job openings
20% of job seekers use smart phones to find work
Top reasons why your resume may be rejected
Why workers become disengaged at work
How to create your own brand when looking for a job
6 things you should do if you become unemployed


8 Challenges The Unemployed Face

1. Discrimination against the unemployed.
There is an unfortunate growing trend of discrimination against the unemployed, simply because they are unemployed. This story reported that there are employers / hiring managers that cling onto the old stereotype picture of an unemployed person: lazy, apathetic, etc. The fact is that 14 million+ people lost their jobs during the Great Recession through no fault of their own. Regardless, at this point it would be a futile exercise trying to prove you've been discriminated against because you were unemployed. Rather, look for ways to avoid the topic. One possible way to alleviate a hiring manager's "concern" is to use a wingman in order to get the job.

2. Discrimination due to an employment gap.
This problem is similar to discrimination against the unemployed as mentioned above, but different in the fact that it is your period of time between jobs that employers are focusing on. For example, you were laid off in January, struggled to find appropriate work for 3 months, and finally  settled for a part time job in a different industry while continuing to look for meaningful work. The problem? There is a 3 month employment gap on your resume. Some employers will look at employment gaps unfavorably, falsely assuming you were unproductive during that time and that this would indicate you are not as hard working as they would like. Here is a much better way of dealing with employment gaps.

3. High school and college kids looking for summer work.
You have to admire high school and college kids were will work during the summer. It can bring them extra money for school as well as good work experience for after their education. Unfortunately, both job seeking adults and kids lose in this category as both are competing for the work. The unemployment rate among 16-24 year olds is 18.4%.

4. Baby Boomers who are postponing retirement.
The May / June 2011 edition of The Quarter Roll says that starting this year 19,000 baby boomers will turn 65 every day for the next 19 years. However, with inflation fears and retirement accounts still recovering from traumatic 2008 losses many baby boomers have been forced to delay retirement and stay in their current positions. Those are positions that would have otherwise been open for new hires.

5. Discrimination against those who have been bankrupt.
In March 2011 posted an article that stated federal reported that a federal appeals court ruled that it is ok for a private employer to discriminate against a job seeker who has filed for bankruptcy. Don't believe it? You can read the whole story here.

6. A disconnect between skills and available jobs.
Many millions of people who were laid off are finding that the skills that served them well prior to the recession are no longer the skills many employers are looking for. There are industries thriving and actively looking for employees, such as the information technology and cyber-security industries, but are finding that many of the unemployed simply don't have the modern skills needed for the available jobs.

7. Employers who are simply fishing for a good deal on salary.
"What You Need To Know About The Job Interviewing Process", as seen in the March / April 2011 edition of The Quarter Roll, reported that advertising open jobs is some companies' way of conducting inexpensive market research. They may want to meet you because you have an interesting resume or worked for a competitor and can share insights. They may just be looking for a highly qualified  person who will work for a much lower salary.

8. Currently 4 job seekers for every job opening.
The Baltimore Sun recently reported that there are still 4 job seekers for every 1 job opening. You can read the entire story here.

What you can do if you are unemployed.
If you are unemployed it is important to make yourself as attractive as possible to potential employers. That means you should eliminate any questions about unemployment or employment gaps. Regardless of the reason why you were laid off you should immediately find something else to do. Anything is better than nothing. Even volunteer work on a regular basis can be put on your  resume in order to fill the employment gap. At the very least you are demonstrating your willingness to work and be involved in a team. Additionally, a recommendation from a common friend could be just what you need to thwart any unemployment concerns a hiring manager had.

Making yourself stand out is more important now than ever before. You have high school and college kids, baby boomers, underemployed and unemployed workers, and even dissatisfied workers competing for the job you want. One way to stand out is to have the technical and modern work skills training that employers are looking for. Don't delay enrolling in some type of higher learning while you are working a temporary job, volunteering, or looking for work. Your local unemployment office or community college are great places to ask for tuition free assistance.

What you should do if you are employed.
Consider the plight your unemployed counterparts are facing. Review the challenges listed above and prepare yourself now in the event you find yourself looking for work. If you have meaningful work now you are in a great position to get a head start by making yourself more marketable in the workforce.


Will How I Look Affect Getting Job Offers?
When we write about job interviewing a common question that is asked of our team is "Does one's appearance affect the outcome of a job interview?". To answer that question we found an example from a highly unlikely source: the 1993 movie Schindler's List.

There is a scene in the movie where Regina Perlman comes to Oscar Schindler's factory to ask for an incredibly important favor. From his office Schindler looked down at Perlman where she was standing at the bottom of a long flight of steps. She was dressed in old clothes and she was turned away without even a word from Schindler. The next day she arrived with makeup on and was wearing a new hat and dress. She was invi
ted up to Schindler's office.

Oscar Schindler: So, what can I do for you?
Krause: They say that no one dies here. They say your factory is a haven. They say you are good.
Schindler: Who says that?
Krause: Everyone. My name is Regina Perlman, not Elsa Krause. I've been living in Krakow on false papers since the ghetto massacre. My parents are in Plaszow. Their names are Chana and Jakob Perlman. They are older people. They're killing older people now in Plaszow. They bury them up in the forest. Look, I don't have any money. I-I borrowed these clothes, I'm begging you - please, please bring them here.

Most certainly, pleading for help saving your parents' lives is a far cry from applying for a job, but we can still see the advantage of Regina Perlman's strategy. The question of the affect of your appearance on your job interview's outcome is like so many others; it is often situational. The short answer is yes, looking good can enhance your chances of getting a job offer. Here are some physical traits that can help get you a higher paying job and some of the research behind this list.

Career Boosters
White and straight teeth.
Those with white, healthy looking teeth are considered more intelligent, interesting, and successful.

If you're a man be 6' tall or higher.
Or if you are a woman be 3 inches taller than the other women around you. Men who are at least 6' tall make an average salary of $5,525 more than their shorter, 5'5 counterparts.

You're not overweight, especially if you are a woman.
When they are overweight, both sexes report smaller paychecks, but women in particular are penalized. For women, a 1% increase in body mass results in a 0.6 percentage point decrease in family income.

You are attractive, but not so attractive that it is distraction!
Strangers rate attractive people as more trustworthy and honest without knowing anything else about them. However, if you are incredibly more attractive then everyone else around you more people say that can actually be a disruption in the workplace. 

You smile a lot.
Again, we tend to trust those who smile and find them more attractive.

You're not bald.
63% of men report that hair loss or balding has negatively affected their careers.

You stand up straight.
A Harvard University study showed that good posture not only makes you appear more successful and powerful, but can suppress the stress hormone cortisol, thus helping you relax in stressful situations.

You dress professionally.
If you don't, many hiring managers perceive you as someone who doesn't even care enough about yourself, let alone the company. TQR



5 ideas for eliminating the employment gaps on your resume.
If there is a gap in your employment you are im
mediately at a disadvantage when applying for jobs. If you don't believe it, Google "employment gap" or "unemployment discrimination" and read the news. Some employers have said they're unwilling to hire unemployed workers because they believe that if a worker has once been let go, that's a sign that he or she is probably not a great hire. Others believe that if someone is out of work for an extended period of time, their basic work skills (taking orders, showing up to work on time, etc.) will erode and make them less valuable to the company.

What is important.
When considering how your resume or work history looks to a potential employer remember that a gap in your employment looks like a black eye on an otherwise attractive face. Their first question may be why do you have the gap? In most cases though you are not around to explain in your own words what happened. In that case employers may tend to answer their own question with the biases listed above. It is important to legitimately eliminate the employment gap all together. You must have something productive listed on your resume for current activity. We'll see five examples below on how to do that.

What isn't important.
Hours are not important. When was the last time you saw any resume that noted how many hours were worked at the job? It doesn't matter how many hours you spend doing the current productive activity you will be involved in. If you are working 1 hour every day answering the phones at your friend's business, your resume would show that you currently hold an administrative assistant position. Your resume wouldn't say "I spend 5 hours a week helping out my best friend during lunch".

1. Temporary work agencies.
Temporary work agencies are staffed by professional job finders. They are literally calling employers all day long looking for work and are some of the most networked people in the business world. Their first priority is to know where the jobs are. Their next priority is to match you up with one of those jobs! The beauty of working with a temp agency is the flexibility. You can find work for one day or for many months.

2. Library
While the library most likely will not pay you they will probably have something you can do to help out. Larger libraries host a wide variety of programs for all ages and segments of the community. One idea in particular is to be a mentor or coach. Those are always in need. What can you teach others to do? Are you a teacher - teach someone to read. Are you a software developer - teach someone to use a computer, software, or the web. Are you a nurse - teach someone to eat right or exercise properly. The list can go on and on. Go to the library, ask for the library director, tell her what your skills are, and ask to be matched up with an appropriate program. Then update your resume to say "Community Coach", "Mentor", or "Consultant".

3. Chamber of commerce
Job fairs are great because it is a large room loaded with hiring managers all in one spot. It makes networking and job hunting very easy. The same is true with your local chamber of commerce. A chamber of commerce will generally host many business and community functions each month. Their priority is networking - providing forums for everyone to meet each other and potentially do business. Where do you fit in? Approach the chamber staff, tell them what your skills are, and ask to be matched up with businesses or events that need temporary help. Many of the chamber's business members would be eager to have you help them through short term projects they are working on. In fact the chamber itself may be able to use your skills. Make sure your resume reflects your current work with the chamber.

4. A part-time job
Taking part-time work while searching for full-time work may benefit you with additional income (you can earn x amount of money while unemployed without losing your unemployment benefits) and having a current job to list on your resume. Remember you don't list how many hours you work on your resume; you list the jobs you are holding or have held. An employer reviewing your application may not know you are only working 15 hours a week, but will see that you are a working, that someone else believes you are employable.

Holding a part-time job while you search for full time work could also provide you with new skills, new contacts, and new ideas in addition to building your resume and your household income.

5. College or vocational studies
Upgrading your education or professional skills is a perfectly legitimate and productive use of your time. If you chose this route be sure to list it on your resume as your current activity. Also write what an employer will gain from hiring you once you graduate with your new or upgraded skill set. Employers love new graduates. It means they don't have to invest as much in your training and you've just been educated in the most current practices within the industry.

What doesn't make good employment gap filler?
"I just needed time off from work."
"I needed to care for my (fill in the blank)."
"I've been fixing up my house."
"I saw every game during March Madness."
"I took my kids to Disneyworld." TQR


Why education, unemployment, and salary expectations all go together.
Thinking about skipping school? There
are many reasons why you should invest in education, but your income potential is the most important one.

If you are between the ages of 16 and 24 consider what an education means to the amount of money you have in your
pocket and bank account. The Economic Policy Institute says, "In 2010, the unemployment rate for workers age 16-24 was
18.4%—the worst on record in the 60 years that this data has been tracked." Additionally in 2010, "Young high school
graduates have been hardest hit: The unemployment rate for
high school graduates under age 25 who were not enrolled in
was 22.5%, compared with 9.3% for college graduates of the same age." TQR

Salary expectations by education level (2010).
Less than high school $444.00 per week / 14.9% unemployment
High school  $626.00 per week / 10.3%
Some college  $712.00 per week / 9.2%
Associates degree $767.00 per week / 7.0%
Bachelors degree $1,038 per week / 5.4%
Masters degree $1,272 per week / 4.0%
Professional degree $1,610 per week / 2.4%
Doctoral degree $1,550 per week / 1.9%

2011 Unemployment rates by education level.
Unemployment rate for those with no high school diploma: 14.3%
Unemployment rate for those with a high school diploma: 9.6%
Unemployment rate for those with some college: 8.2%
Unemployment rate for those with a college diploma: 4.3%
Source: August 2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-4

More articles on work and unemployment    
When It Is Time To Leave Your Job
Here are some of the signs that tell you when it is time to jump ship and pursue a career at another company where you can excel.
Solving The Job Skills Mismatch
Job seekers are finding that their current work skills are not a match for available jobs. Here is what to do about the job skills mismatch.
Education, Unemployment, and Salary Expectations All Go Together
There are many reasons why you should invest in education, particularly the link between your education level and the likelihood of unemployment.
Interviewing When Everyone Is Watching You
Just like there are behaviors employers love, there are also behaviors that make employers cringe. How to interview when everyone is watching you.
When Everyone Is Watching You
Just like there are behaviors employers love, there are also behaviors that make employers cringe. How to interview when everyone is watching you.
Great Tips For Getting Job Offers
Here are many job interview techniques you can learn from waiters and waitresses who make the best tips.
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