How to Deal with Unemployment and Underemployment?

Updated : August 4th, 2020

The marginal decrease in the unemployment rate does not necessarily translate into what the ground reality is, where unemployment rates do not account for individuals who have stopped attempting to look for jobs altogether or the large numbers of individuals who have settled for work which is below their paygrade. Looking at the bigger picture in the USA, statistics are strongly leaning towards a reality that is grim, indicating that only a little over 60% of the population which falls under the ‘adult’ age bracket – stretching from 16 to 64 – are employed, and even they are making less than required on an average.

How to deal with unemployment and underemployment?

Fighting with issues of unemployment, underemployment and a job market that is at constant odds with the number of people standing in line and waiting for interviews, the widespread income drop shows in the Labor Bureau reports, but it still hasn’t accounted for the psychological, physical and familial stress that the situation has caused – the human toll, so to say. The recession in 2008 has not entirely been tackled, which is evident in every field of life in one way or the other, but did you know that the median income for each household in the US is still 8% below than what it was before the recession?



Tackling such issues and dealing with unemployment from the individual and agencies point of view works on two levels, one where each working individual or potential-working individual in the family or household takes measures to increase their chances of getting and keeping a stable job, and the other wherein macro issues are altered and improved from the side of the agencies, military and government.

From an individual’s standpoint

What they are looking for

Keeping in mind that the job opportunities are now a needle in a haystack, and the individuals up for each position are often overqualified, even the course you choose to pursue has a considerable impact on your chances at a good job, if not any employment at all. While your love for the liberal arts or natural sciences may lead you to choose them as a major, it is important to be aware of the majors that are preferred by employers.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers has narrowed down the employers’ and agencies’ demands to four major categories in bachelors, masters and even doctorate levels – engineering, computer, communication and information sciences and technology, and pure sciences. Graduations such as liberal arts, natural resources, and agriculture are very low on the demand scale.

Even within the majors that are in demand, employers are looking for lateral and problem-solving skills, quantitative analysis skills and an on-hand experience as opposed to academic prowess.

The appropriate approach

It’s not enough to skip through classifieds any longer, or even apply with an immaculate resume and a letter – every person looking for employment needs an approach both proactive and aggressive.

Here are a few out-of-the-box steps that may help you get the ball rolling:

  1. Show them how badly you want it: Sorting through hundreds of applications, the human resources team is on the hunt for a resume that stands out. A short paragraph or two on why you want to work for that particular company, and what you will do once you get the position can give your application that extra attention it needs. It’s all about relevance and specificity, so don’t write a general note for all the places you are applying to – personalize!
  2. More than just an application: Answering advertisements and front door attempts are not cutting it anymore – use your resources to get in touch with people who have the power to hire. Even if you approach them from the standpoint of getting advice, a foot-in-the-door short-term project is good enough for you to nurture a relationship.
  3. Give more than you might get: Try other routes, propose to volunteer for a few months as a trial – at least the employer has the incentive of free labor if nothing else.

Pooling resources and strict budgets

All said and done, shoe-string budgets and the need to cut corners are inevitable when it comes to dealing with unemployment within the month’s expenditure, so it’s a good idea to get together family resources and work on sustenance while you job hunt. Keep in mind that pooled resources are always easier to budget through, cutting down on the individual expenditure and saving money collectively.

From the employers

Strategic creation of opportunities

Human resource management from the employer’s side should work towards collaboratively creating employment for individuals with all skill sets, even those that are lacking in academic excellence. Even outside of the larger fortune 500 or similar employers, citizens who can afford it can encourage personal aides for their homes as a way of generating jobs – especially in sectors such as education, housekeeping, and round-the-clock health care.

Entrepreneurship and Crowdfunding

Yet again, a way to both stabilize the economy and create jobs, entrepreneurship should be a part of the curriculum, encouraging students or newly graduated individuals to develop businesses that can sustain them as well as others in their field, using capital from resources besides their own inheritance or companies with capital.   



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  1. My benefits ended Jan. 11, 2020. Will I be eligible for 13 week extension and if so how do I claim in N.J.?

    1. John,

      We understand this might be a difficult time for you. We’re anticipating a shortage of staff across unemployment offices due to the massive surge in UI applications considering the pandemic. We advise against calling or visiting the office, as you may not get a response instantly. Please read more about the situation here https://fileunemployment.org/coronavirus/

      Your state may have activated “Extended Benefits (EB)” authorized by the federal government. We recommend you apply for UI benefits online. For more information, please visit your state’s official Unemployment website.

  2. I have been trying to apply for unemployment,on-line and by phone, for several days. My first attempt was on the day that I was required by last name. I truly understand that there is going to be an extremely large,either by phone or on-line,influs of applicants to complete this process. Following the prompts do not seem to work since I am guided to another section that does not pertain to applying. I am extremely frustrated. I need to complete my unemployment claim. May you please tell me what I need to do?

    1. Edna,

      We understand this might be a difficult time for you. We’re anticipating a shortage of staff across unemployment offices due to the massive surge in UI applications considering the pandemic. We advise against calling or visiting the office, as you may not get a response instantly. Please read more about the situation here https://fileunemployment.org/coronavirus/

      Your state may have activated “Extended Benefits (EB)” authorized by the federal government. We recommend you apply for UI benefits online. For more information, please visit your state’s official Unemployment website.

    1. I am not sure how it works in your state. We suggest you visit the Unemployment Office’s website and learn more about it under the FAQs section.

  3. I am confused, my Illinois unemployment was accepted on March 29th, but I don’t call to certify for benefits until Monday, March 13th. I thought they were waiving the waiting week. Now I have to wait almost 3 weeks for any kind of financial relief? Do I not get the 600 for the care plan? if I do when will that be here? will it be direct deposit? Please help me.

    1. Jennifer,

      Please try finding answers online since there might be limited phone support due to the shortage of staffing. You can use the “Resources” or “FAQs” section of the website.

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