You Should Go Back To Work After The Lockdown Ends, Even If You're Making More Money On Unemployment

If you’re one of the many people who lost their jobs during the Coronavirus pandemic, you’ve probably taken advantage of unemployment benefits. We’re lucky that our government has filled the gap as many of us have struggled to make ends meet – but there have been some unintended consequences.

By Abby Roth2 min read
Shutterstock/Lyubov Levitskaya

On March 27, President Trump signed the $2 trillion CARES Act into law. As part of the law, Congress approved an additional $600 a week in unemployment insurance for those who lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus. In an effort to match the average salary of those who lost their jobs in 2020, they raised the weekly unemployment check to $970 a week. What they didn’t account for was the difference between the average salary and the median salary, which is much lower.

So what’s happened? People are making more money off their unemployment checks than if they were to return to their jobs. And all of this is making small business owners who are hoping to reopen scared that they won’t be able to rehire their employees.

You Have No Room for Advancement

Even though the idea of collecting unemployment indefinitely is attractive, don’t fall for it as a long-term solution. If you have the opportunity to return to work, you absolutely should. Think about it. At some point, you won’t be able to continue collecting unemployment and you will have hit the ceiling. There’s no room for advancement or growth.

At some point, you won’t be able to continue collecting unemployment and you will have hit the ceiling. There’s no room for advancement or growth.

Imagine you lost your entry-level job. It didn’t pay well and the hours were long, so you choose to stick with unemployment. Why was that entry-level job worth taking in the first place? Because it led somewhere. It was the first step on the stairs to your success. It’s easy to be tempted by the idea of being paid to sit on your couch and do nothing. But you owe it to yourself to pursue your career and find meaning.

Career or Job, It’s Still Worth Earning Your Money

There are two ways people approach work. The first is as a career. You’re doing something you’re passionate about and you’re working to ascend in your career. Some people’s work gives them meaning and fulfillment – and collecting unemployment would only mean giving up on their dreams.

The second way people approach working is as a job. You work to earn money so that you can provide for yourself and/or your family. Even in that case, working to earn your money will give you pride in yourself and in the money that you’ve made. That money will mean more to you than any handouts the government will give you.

Working to earn your money will give you pride in yourself and in the money that you’ve made. 

Money means so much more when you’ve earned it. Remember when your grandmother would give you $25 on your birthday? How ready were you to spend it? Now think about the first $25 you ever earned. It may have taken a few hours, so that money was precious. You didn’t think about immediately spending it, all in one go. You thought about using it more wisely. Why? Because for many of us, money represents our efforts. And being handed money should only be taken advantage of in times when we can’t earn for ourselves.

Unemployment Is for Those Who Can’t Work

At the end of the day, unemployment is designed for those who are unable to work, not those who choose not to. If you can return to work, choosing to stay at home and collect unemployment benefits is selfish and wrong. You’re taking the money out of the hands of those who actually need it.

Approach unemployment benefits like a gift, not a replacement.

Additionally, those small business owners who are hoping their employees will return need you right now. They need their employees to make the right choice and return to work so that the economy can get restarted. They need people to approach their unemployment benefits like a gift, not a replacement.

Closing Thoughts

If you’re making more on unemployment than you would be if you would return to work, take a moment to reflect. Would you be choosing the best option if you opted to stay at home rather than earn your money? Would you be living up to the best version of yourself? This is an opportunity to choose betterment over what’s easy – so take advantage of it.

Abby Roth is the creator of Classically Abby, a commentary, opera, beauty, and lifestyle brand dedicated to looking at the world from a classic perspective. Abby is an opera singer with three degrees in operatic performance from USC and Manhattan School of Music. You can find her website at and follow her on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest at @ClassicallyAbby.