17 Common Unemployment Myths and Misconceptions, Debunked! 

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

There’s a lot of misunderstanding involved when it comes to being unemployed. People have their own ideas and misconceptions that govern how they think about being unemployed and those who are unemployed. What if you’re looking at it all wrong? What if the beliefs and thoughts you have about it are all just a bunch of myths and misconceptions? Today we are going to investigate this a little more.

Debunking 17 myths and misconceptions about unemployment:

1. Unemployment insurance payouts are impacted by the number of people claiming.

You might believe that the more people claim from unemployment insurance, the smaller your piece of the pie might be, but that’s not true. In the United States, unemployment benefits are a right, and as such, workers are entitled to these benefits even if the state runs out of money. If there’s a shortage, the federal government steps in to pay workers out.

2. Being unemployed is something to be ashamed of.

People who become unemployed suddenly start to feel ashamed that they aren’t earning an income and aren’t able to provide for themselves or their families. Here’s a reality check… there’s nothing shameful about being unemployed. The only shameful thing is if you don’t try to find gainful employment and plan to leach off those around you. 

3. Unemployment is easy because it is funded by the government.

Some people have the idea in their heads that being unemployed is a free ride. They think that the government will provide them with funds and that they don’t have to find a job. The reality is that the government has requirements for people to qualify for unemployment insurance, and even then, the amount provided is somewhat minimal. You will need to look for gainful employment if you wish to cover your expenses and live comfortably. 

4. You should apply for every possible job if you are unemployed. 

When recently unemployed, many people go on a CV spamming mission. They send their resume to every job post advertised in hopes of landing something (anything). The problem with this is that you waste your time and that of the company’s if you don’t have the experience and qualifications required. It’s better to respond to adverts that fit in with what you are qualified for. 

5. Being unemployed is a death sentence of sorts.

Many people believe that being unemployed is some sort of death sentence in their life. They imagine losing their relevance in their career, lying on the couch all day, losing importance to family and friends, and generally slipping into depression. The reality is that you can use your unemployment to study further, learn a new skill, work part-time (restaurants and bars are great places to earn interim money), and spend quality time with your loved ones. Use the time wisely, and it could be a good thing for a short time. 

6. Anyone who is not working can claim unemployment benefits.

Most people mistakenly believe that just anyone without a job can claim unemployment from the government. It doesn’t quite work that way. You can only claim if you have been previously working for at least 6 months and have been let go through no fault of your own. This means that you cannot claim if you have been fired for committing a crime or breaking company rules. 

7. Once you’re unemployed, it will become extremely difficult to find a job.

It’s a massive misconception that unemployment dooms you to a difficult job hunting process. Your attitude and how you present yourself will do all the work you need when job hunting. If you dwell on your unemployment unnaturally in the interviews you go on, then you might be making the process difficult for yourself. 

8. Unemployed people are unqualified or lack skills.

Many people look down their noses at unemployed people because they assume that they don’t have the skills or qualifications required to have a job, when that’s just not the truth. Unemployed people may have been retrenched or laid off for financial reasons of the company. They might have been a poor fit with their last company and have actually chosen to be unemployed. They might even just be in a state of transition in their career.

9. Older employees holding onto their jobs are ruining job prospects for young people.

There’s a common misconception in the younger generation that older people who hang onto their positions are actually stealing those positions from younger candidates. While it is easy to think like this if you are a young unemployed person, realize that older people in positions are probably there because they have vast knowledge and skills in the industry. It is better to focus on working your way up in your career – it’s not as simple as replacing one person with another in any business position. 

10. Unemployment benefits are based on how much you need.

Unfortunately, when it comes to unemployment benefits, the government will not take a list of your expenses and simply cover it. In reality, most unemployed citizens in the United States who file for unemployment get around 45% of their usual salary in benefits. 

11. You get to take some time off when you’re unemployed.

Many people think that being unemployed is about putting your feet up and relaxing; when in reality, it is a time in your life when you will work the hardest. You will need to job hunt until you are exhausted. You will also need to use the time to keep your skills and knowledge current while keeping fit and healthy. 

12. It’s a bad sign about you if you find yourself unemployed.

Many people start to think that they are inferior or poor quality people because they find themselves unemployed. This is closely tied to the feelings of shame that most unemployed people feel. Focus on the positive – unemployment is merely a time of transition. 

13. People who are unemployed are jobless for a good reason.

This particular misconception is one of the reasons why some employers hesitate to hire someone who is already unemployed. Don’t worry though, people are starting to think differently about this. While there is sometimes a valid reason someone is unemployed, in most instances, people are unemployed for reasons beyond their control. 

14. An unemployed person is an employee no other company wants.

To many people, it’s a sign that other companies don’t want someone if they are unemployed. The reality is that some people like to leave a gap between employments. It’s also a probability that the unemployed individual is highly skilled but merely waiting for just the right job to come along. 

15. Unemployed people lose touch with their skills and expertise while jobless.

This is a common misconception that just isn’t true. Most career-minded unemployed people actually brush up on their skills during their unemployed time. Completing new and refresher courses is a great way to keep skills current during unemployment. 

16. There’s no way to make an income if you are unemployed. 

It’s an absolute myth that you can’t make an income if you are unemployed. During a time of unemployment, you can seek out part-time work as a waiter or bartender or even do odd jobs around the neighborhood. There’s always a way to earn a little bit of income. 

17. Your monthly expenses will stifle you if you are unemployed. 

As mentioned above, there are ways that you can earn a little bit of money to go towards your expenses. You can also be proactive about consolidating your debt and even doing a bit of coupon discount shopping. After all, it’s only for a short time. 

Last word

As you can see, people have varied ideas and beliefs about unemployment, which, thankfully, just aren’t true. If you have been prone to believing or buying into the above-mentioned myths and misconceptions about unemployment yourself, perhaps you should consider how they have all just been busted! Perhaps you have just been looking at it all wrong in the first place.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He covers topics like spirituality, philosophy, finance, sports, games, and food. JC earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business with a Marketing Concentration at Mercyhurst University. He is a certified USPTA professional who teaches tennis in the New York City Metropolitan area. He has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.