On Losing a Job

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Unexpectedly unemployed: How to cope with losing your job

If we could identify the qualities that make people more likely to end up in long-term unemployment, we could, at least in theory, tailor policies toward them, perhaps by training them in skills that are in demand or by teaching them how to search for jobs more effectively. Yet most of the evidence suggests there is little that distinguishes the long-term unemployed apart from bad luck. Certain characteristics do make people more likely to become unemployed in the first place: The unemployed tend to be younger and less educated than the overall workforce; they are significantly less likely to be married and are more likely to be racial or ethnic minorities; they are more likely to have worked part-time at their prior job and to come from high-turnover sectors such as hospitality, or, particularly since the housing bust, construction.

But while there are significant differences between the employed and the unemployed, there is very little difference between those who have been out of work for more than a year and those who have been jobless for shorter periods. The table below shows how the long- and short-term unemployed compare to each other and to the labor force as a whole. Apart from the long-term unemployed being a little older, the two groups look nearly identical.


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We can test this theory by calculating the probability that someone with certain characteristics will become long-term unemployed. I looked at all the Current Population Survey records since , a sample of about 34, individual unemployed workers. The table below shows the share of laid-off workers in various categories who ended up long-term unemployed, and also the share that ended up with jobs.

As the earlier table suggested, most characteristics have remarkably little predictive value. A few factors do make a difference. Men are a bit more likely to become long-term unemployed than women; blacks are more likely than whites; and, most significantly, older workers are more likely than younger ones.

The factor that has the biggest impact, however, has nothing to do with the workers themselves.

1. Acknowledge Your Emotions, Then Move On

Someone who loses a job when the unemployment rate is 8 percent or higher is, on average, three and a half times more likely to end up long-term unemployed than someone who gets laid off when the unemployment rate is under 6 percent. One of the hallmarks of recessions, particularly severe recessions, is that they hit even well-established employees who would be unlikely to lose their jobs during better economic times.

Take a short break to evaluate your situation. You don't have to start looking for a new job the day after you get fired but do not wallow in self-pity for very long. Try to figure out what happened so you can learn from this experience.

Losing a job is the single most negative event a person can experience

It's easy to blame others, but it is essential to own your own mistakes. If you don't, it won't be possible to make the necessary changes to keep it from happening again.

The first thing to do when you lose your job is to find out if you are eligible for government unemployment benefits. Your financial survival depends on having a regular income. If you live in the U. See " How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits.

Losing Your Job

If possible, don't deplete your savings or increase your debt. Devise a budget that allows you to cut down on your expenses as much as you can. If your former employer provided your health insurance as part of your benefits package , you are going to have to find out how to pay for it on your own.

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An illness can wipe out one's savings and put an individual into serious debt very quickly. Contact your former employer's employee benefits office or human resources department to learn more. Losing your job provides the perfect opportunity to reevaluate your career choice and determine whether a change is in order. One thing to consider is whether you enjoyed what you were doing.

Another is the health of your field. This may seem obvious; however, sometimes the grief of losing a job can cloud practicality.

Your Jobs Our Future

Use everything that you can from your former role to position you favorably for your next one. Warning Avoid letting thoughtless remarks from your former employer, family members or friends affect your feelings of self-worth as you begin the process of building motivation to look for your new role. Job loss can make people feel awkward and unsure how to respond appropriately.

Trust yourself and move forward. Finney; About the Author Emma Cale has been writing professionally since Accessed 26 November Cale, Emma. Work - Chron.