Unemployed? Try Working for Cash
From the Marketplace story "Can't Find Work? Try Looking for Cash."
Michael: I'm getting $272 a week [in unemployment benefits]. Which is just, bare bones. It's so bad that at one time I was going to the food bank. And, you know when you're really hungry and when you're facing eviction, you've got to do something.
Marketplace: So he started looking for work on the side. He found it pretty quickly.
Michael: So right now I have Craigslist open. And what I've done is I've opened three different tabs: I've opened free stuff, all gigs and all jobs.
Marketplace: He's found all sorts of work this way: software testing, landscaping, bouncing and lots of focus groups. All have paid cash. He says some weeks he's earned three times as much as his benefits check. Like everyone on unemployment, he's meant to report any earnings to his unemployment insurance office. Then they adjust his benefits down. So how does Michael answer the question, have you earned any money this week?
Michael: I opt to say, you know, no. I opt to say no, I have not. Because this is my own hard work, this is my own ingenuity, this is my own genius, and I am still looking for work every day.
MP: We hear a lot about how the official unemployment rate doesn't count those who are "underemployed" and doesn't count discouraged workers, and therefore we are underestimating the stress and pain in the labor market. However, those unemployed workers receiving unemployment compensation who are actually working for cash would offset some of the underestimation of the official jobless numbers.