If it’s Sunday, it’s unemployment day.
That’s the first day of the week you can go to the Montana unemployment website and get paid for not working the previous week.
I went ahead and filed.
Tomorrow June starts, meaning I have nine more weeks of this.
That means the feds will pay me $5,400 and the state will give me $1,467 for a total of nearly $6,900.
Let’s say I had a job making $10 an hour. For those nine weeks, I’d get paid $3,600.
But that’s not quite accurate, as I’d have to pay taxes on that money...which I don’t have to do with unemployment.
So I make nearly twice as much sitting at home playing video games than if I had a real job.
And let’s be honest - many people aren’t getting $10 an hour, many people aren’t working 40 hours a week.
So this is a really, really good deal.
Will it continue?
Chances are good it will not.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce opposes extending these benefits past July, and many members of Congress do as well. One Republican senator actually wants to pay people a bonus of $450 a week for returning to work before August.
At the same time, Democrats want to extend these benefits. They made this clear with the $3 trillion Heroes Act, which passed the House on May 15.
You probably heard about this - the Senate Republicans said it was dead on arrival, as it should have been. One of the most egregious parts of the act was the stipulation that landlords actually had to begin sharing their profits with tenants.
So chances are good that come August, unemployment will be over...mostly. Congress mandated that states now pay their unemployment for 39 weeks, not the 26 weeks they had before (Montana actually gets 41 weeks).
That ain’t gonna cut it.
I get $600 a week from the feds, but just $160 a week from the state.
If I was only making $160 a week, I’d have to go back to work or find another job.
There are hardly any jobs being offered here in Missoula. I check Craigslist and Indeed everyday, so I know.
This is scary.
As August 1 gets closer and closer, there’ll be more pressure on Congress to extend these unemployment benefits into the fall and winter. I suspect we’ll hear more about universal basic income as well.
I like getting free money for doing nothing, but I know it can’t continue.
The best way to get this country running again is to force everyone to go back to work. Not extending unemployment will do that.
This week’s riots made one thing clear - people are done with lockdowns.
They’re done with social distancing as well.
It took a black man dying to make us realize this virus is over. You couldn’t lock people down again if you wanted to.
But back to what I find scary...the lack of jobs.
Right now we’re at 20% unemployment, and when August hits and unemployment is cutoff, we’re going to see 40 million Americans rush out to get whatever jobs they can...even though we’ll probably only have 20 million jobs available, probably less.
This is what I find scary, and this is why smart people will find another job before the August crunch hits.
If you don’t have a job by then, you’re not going to get one for the rest of this year and probably for most of next year.
Here in Missoula, I just don’t know where those jobs are going to come from.
Let’s say we have 100 restaurants in town. Let’s say they had 500 workers between them.
Chances are good that 25 of these restaurants will never reopen, 25 of them will reopen just as before, and 50 of them will reopen with half their former staff and half their customer levels...if even that.
So right away we have 125 workers that are out of work for good, and another 250 workers that are either working half their previous hours, or not working at all anymore as they’re no longer needed due to lack of customer demand.
So we now have 375 workers that are screwed, either out of work or working a job that doesn’t cut it.
What are they going to do?
Walmart and Costco can only hire so many people, after all.
So for those 375 people, they have some tough choices to make. I think the biggest tough choice will be whether they stay in Missoula or move ‘back home,’ closer to relatives and some kind of support network.
So now the majority of those 375 people will be gone from Missoula, meaning we have even fewer people in town to spend money with local businesses. This is not going to make it any easier for the people still here to get jobs, because there are no jobs, and now we have even less demand for the businesses still operating.
So further economic downturns will happen.
The only way I see any kind of economic upswing is if people stop being afraid and start living their lives like before.
But this isn’t going to happen.
Too many of us are scared, and the older and less healthy you are, the more scared you are.
Most economic activity comes from the older demographics, as they have more money and more savings, not the younger people who have neither.
I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but I don’t think it’s gonna be good.