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Labor Department Now Offers Online Help


WETHERSFIELD — The Connecticut Department of Labor’s online Unemployment Insurance Assistance Center is now available in Spanish, as well as English.

The online service center, which can be found at www.filectui.com, offers a number of unemployment insurance services, including the ability to request an address change, reset a locked account or PIN for benefit filing, make changes to income tax withholding status, and notify the agency upon a return to work.

The online service, first launched a year ago, currently receives up to 1,500 requests each month. The site also has a “UI Basics” section for first time filers, provides information on unemployment benefits that have been paid, instructs people about how to file an appeal, and contains information on how to report suspected fraud. 

According to officials, requently asked questions include whether a person is eligible to collect unemployment, and if an individual can file for benefits while working part-time or attending school or training classes. Answers to these types of questions can easily be found on the site, along with instructions outlining how to apply for benefits via the state’s direct deposit system.

 

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Labor Dept to Hold Career Workshops


HARTFORD — Connecticut Department of Labor is inviting residents to stop by in person or online to check out the many employment services offered by the agency during November, which has been officially designated as “National Career Month.”

The agency has Career Centers throughout the state where individuals can obtain such services as career counseling, résumé writing assistance, skills assessment and job search tips, and can also take part in a variety of workshops ranging from successful interview tactics to computer skills.

Officials said that the unemployed seeking a new job, or the employed looking for a better position or thinking about making a career change, can visit a job center or by visiting our website at www.ct.gov/dol.

The help is for  newcomers to the job market or seasoned employees already working in their field of choice.  Services are free, including recruitment events, job fairs and labor market statistics, as well as programs for employers such as tax credits and incentive programs and recruitment assistance.

Workshops offered in November at the various Job Centers include:

  • Bridgeport: Get Connected With LinkedIn on Nov. 4; Résumé Critique on Nov. 8; GED Orientation on Nov. 19; Exploring Technical Careers on Nov. 21.
  • Hamden: Social Networking on Nov. 4; Successful Job Search Strategies on Nov. 8; Résumé Basics on Nov. 22; Internet Job Search on Nov. 25.
  • New London: Putting Service into Customer Service on Nov. 1; Step Up for Vets on Nov. 8; Career Development Exploration Day on Nov. 13;Job Search Strategies on Nov. 27.
  • Waterbury:  Résumé Basics on Nov. 1; Stress Management Strategies on Nov. 13, Networking Group on Nov.14; Interviewing Techniques on Nov. 22.

 

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The American Jobs Crisis


By Glenn Mollette

On any given day, Congress debates cutting entitlement programs versus strengthening them. Programs such as food stamps and supplemental nutrition for women, infants and children are part of the debate. Free lunch programs feed as many as 60 percent of children in some impoverished counties.

Thousands of Americans rely on Supplemental Security Insurance to provide assistance based on financial need. This pays monthly amounts of $710 for an individual or $1,066 for a qualifying couple.  Many Americans are surviving on unemployment insurance benefits of approximately $330 a week.  These are not long-term survival plans. Many more struggle to hang on until age 62 to receive the minimum social security benefit.

glen mollettOver 120 million people rely on some type of government assistance. Another 50 million have relied on government assistance in the last 10 years or will in the next five years. What has happened to us? Do Americans love living on food stamps, WIC benefits and receiving minimal SSI checks in the mail or other forms of government help? The answer is no.  Many of the poor are actually working jobs but can’t make enough money.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionWe did this to ourselves in America. In some cases we pushed our jobs out and in other cases we simply let them slip through our hands.  Mexico, China and India are delighted to have our jobs and our money. Americans left behind try to figure out how to buy groceries, pay rent and afford tanks of gas. Government money will run out. It’s a matter of time before Congress will cut back on food stamps and WIC, along with cutting Medicare and Social Security payments. We should oppose these cuts until the jobs trend is reversed. However, the load has become backbreaking for a government that has been financially broke for a long time.

We can solve these problems:

  1.     To bring jobs back to the U.S., Congress must ease the tax burden on American corporations. We should cut the tax rate from 35% to 15% for corporations that bring 70% of their jobs back home. Corporations that keep jobs overseas should continue to pay the higher rate. Some of the mega corporations have utilized loopholes to pay much smaller amounts of tax while most corporations pay the high tax. We must make the tax simpler and make it reasonable for all corporations.
  2.     Unions must use common sense. The day and time when unions could hold employers hostage by making exorbitant demands have passed. Employers can simply close the doors and move their operations to Mexico leaving workers and unions behind.
  3.    Give a $10,000 tax credit to people who cease relying on Supplemental Security Insurance and Social Security disability and get back into the workforce. Although many are genuinely unable to do any type of work, many more can do some type of work. Give this credit over three years.
  4.      Allow students to attend the first two years of community college tuition-free if they maintain a GPA of 3.0. Student loans would be cut in half. Many 65 – 80 year old retired professors would enjoy working for adjunct, contract pay and would bring a wealth of knowledge with them.
  5.      Raise the minimum wage to $9. Cut the corporate tax on one end so that corporations can provide more pay on the other end.

Approximately 50 million Americans live in poverty while another 50 million are not far from the poverty line. Many Americans living in poverty are working, but the jobs don’t pay enough and they are forced to rely on government assistance.

It does not have to be this way. We don’t have to be poor and in debt, America can bounce back. To change the face of America, we must make progressive and aggressive changes. At this stage of our economy we need to change the face of Congress. They’ve had their chance. Most of them have been in Washington too long and have made it all about them and not about Americans.

Glenn Mollette is an American Columnist and is read in all fifty states. He is the author of American Issues and nine other books. Find his books at BarnesandNoble.com.  Contact him at gmollette@aol.com  like his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/glennmollette

 

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Report: More Than 380,000 Nonemployer Businesses Added to the U.S. Economy,


WASHINGTON, D.C. – The number of businesses without paid employees in the U.S. rose 1.7 percent to 22.5 million in 2011, according to a new report released on Thursday from the U.S. Census Bureau.

This marked the second straight increase in nonemployer businesses, with all but two states (Louisiana and New Hampshire) posting gains from 2010 to 2011.

Today’s findings come from Nonemployer Statistics: 2011, an annual report on U.S. businesses without paid employees, classified in nearly 450 industries for the nation, states, counties and metropolitan areas. Nonemployer Statistics covers businesses with no paid employees, annual business receipts of $1,000 or more ($1 or more in the construction industries) and subject to federal income taxes. Businesses with paid employees were covered in County Business Patterns, which was released in April.

William Bostic Jr., associate director for economic programs at the U.S. Census Bureau, said that about 75 percent of all U.S. business locations are nonemployer businesses.

This release covers 19.4 million sole proprietorships, 1.4 million corporations and 1.6 million partnerships, which together make up the total number of nonemployer businesses.

At the state level, California had the largest increase in the number of nonemployer businesses, with 72,605 added in 2011. The states with the next highest increases in the number of businesses were Texas (41,148), Florida (31,485) and New York (21,119).

Among the 50 counties with the largest number of nonemployer businesses, Los Angeles County, Calif., added the most nonemployer businesses (28,651). Other large increases were in Cook County, Ill. (11,705), Maricopa County, Ariz. (10,038) and Kings County, N.Y. (Brooklyn) with 8,455.

Among industry sectors, services that compromise the “other services” (except public administration) sector gained the largest number of establishments, adding 159,163 in 2011, an increase of 4.7 percent. Types of services that fall within this sector include automotive repair and maintenance, barbershops, beauty salons, laundries and dry cleaners.

The number of nonemployer businesses declined in only two sectors. The construction sector lost 36,262 establishments (1.5 percent), while the finance and insurance sector lost 3,088 establishments (0.4 percent).

Other highlights:

–Total annual receipts for nonemployer businesses were $989.6 billion in 2011, an increase of $38.8 billion (4.1 percent) from the previous year.

–The District of Columbia had the highest percent increase in the number of nonemployer businesses, up 7.2 percent, followed by North Dakota (4.3 percent), Arizona (3.2 percent) and Delaware (2.9 percent).

–North Dakota reported the highest percentage increase in receipts in 2011, up 13.2 percent to $2.3 billion.

–California had the largest dollar increase in nonemployer receipts, adding $5.5 billion for a state total of $143.8 billion in 2011.

–Among the 50 counties with the largest number of nonemployer businesses, Brooklyn had the highest percentage increase in receipts, rising 7.8 percent in 2011. Orange County, Fla., increased 6.8 percent and Harris County, Texas, followed with an increase of 6.6 percent.

 

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State’s Unemployed Will be First to Feel Fall Over the ‘Fiscal Cliff’


By Ana Radelat

WASHINGTON — Eventually, nearly every American will feel the economic pain brought on by going over the so-called fiscal cliff, but more than 43,000 unemployed Connecticut workers would be among the first.

That’s because those long-time unemployed workers will stop receiving benefits next week unless Congress acts in the next few days.

“Both houses of Congress need to grow up and make sure 2.3 million Americans don’t lose their benefits,” said Mitchell Hirsch, an unemployed worker advocate at the New York-based National Employment Law Project.

There are both humanitarian and economic reasons to continue those benefits, Hirsch said. A sudden loss of money from Washington, which the unemployed usually spend quickly on necessities, would hurt local economies, he said.

Connecticut and most other states offer 26 weeks of benefits to the unemployed. But since the recession began in 2008, the federal government has provided an extension of those benefits, at one point for up to 99 weeks, but now 83 weeks in Connecticut.

Authorization to continue the program runs out on Dec. 31, just as a series of Bush-era tax breaks are set to expire. It would cost about $30 billion to extend the long-term unemployment benefits for another year.

The Connecticut Department of Labor says an end to the long-term benefits means 43,000 to 45,000  jobless in the state would stop receiving unemployment checks in January.

Sharon Palmer, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Labor, said her agency warned Connecticut’s long-term unemployed by letter earlier this month their benefits may soon be ending.

“We also told them to continue to file for benefits because if Congress does act, we can send them the money right away,” Palmer said.

Since the recession began, the numbers of long-term unemployed — defined as someone who has been out of work for at least 26 weeks — has remained stubbornly high, representing about 40 percent of all jobless. The average duration of unemployment is about  40 weeks.

Palmer said a sudden end of benefits would force the longtime jobless to look for other social services to “stay afloat,” placing an additional strain on the state’s resources.

Last week, President Obama urged lawmakers to scale back ambitions for a grand bargain to avoid the dire economic consequences expected to occur when the Bush-era tax breaks expire and $500 billion in automatic spending cuts are implemented on Jan. 2. The president instead wanted Congress to send him legislation that would prevent tax cuts from expiring for all but the highest-earning Americans — and extend unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless.

But as the clock ticks away toward the New Year and the fiscal cliff, the situation in Washington remains stalemated.

The Senate is in session today.  But the House has no plans to convene, following the failure last week of House Speaker John Boehner to win GOP support for legislation to prevent scheduled tax increases on everyone but millionaires.

Congressional Democrats want to extend the jobless benefits and Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., both signed a letter urging the Senate leadership to do so.

Republicans resisted previous reauthorizations, arguing the original idea was for a temporary measure. But GOP leaders have not weighed in on the issue recently, giving some advocates for the unemployed hope.

Palmer of the Connecticut Department of Labor said she hopes Congress and the president will agree to continue both the tax cuts and the unemployment benefits for a short period of time, leaving the new Congress the tough job of coming up with a broader agreement on taxes and spending.

Nancy Carrington, president of the Connecticut Food Bank, which feeds those in need in six counties, said an end of long-term benefits would “add more people to the line”  of those seeking help from her organization, a line that’s grown during the recession and from the impact of Superstorm Sandy.

“It seems to be a very cruel gesture at the conclusion of our holiday season,” she said.

 

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For Some Jobs, the Unemployed Need not Apply


By Caitlin Emma

It is illegal for employers to discriminate against potential employees on the basis of their race, religion or gender. But employment status? Kim Keough of Bethel is among the unemployed and underemployed to learn that for some jobs, the unemployed need not apply.

Keough, who was laid off in 2008, made that discovery in August after pursuing a job opening in Stamford that she found online through a local recruiting web site. With 20 years experience in human resources, the job seemed perfect.

“I tried to apply for the position, but the recruiter e-mailed me back and said, ‘This particular client is very picky about resumes. They won’t consider anyone who isn’t currently working,'” Keough said.

But Keough was working. After losing her job at Stolt Nielsen Transportation Group, a Maritime operations company in Norwalk, Keough had started working part-time at The Daily Fare, a café in Bethel’s train station.

“I told her that I’m working part-time, but don’t have that on my resume since it isn’t in my field, and I got the following response: ‘No, they are just tough.’ ”

With constituents like Keough in mind, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and two Democratic colleagues, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, wrote to CareerBuilder, a major job search site, to ask that it bar employers from ruling out the unemployed in their ads.

“We are writing to request that CareerBuilder prohibit companies from posting job opportunities that discriminate against potential applicants based on their employment status,” the senators say in a letter to Matt Ferguson, the site’s chief executive officer. “During this period of high unemployment, our nation’s economic recovery depends on new employment opportunities for unemployed workers.”

Jennifer Grasz, communications director for CareerBuilder, said the website encourages companies to consider all applicants. She didn’t say if CareerBuilder planned to take definitive action against companies considering employment status.

“CareerBuilder strongly supports fair and equal hiring practices,” she said in an e-mail. “Every segment of the workforce brings unique skills and value to the workplace.  If you exclude any segment from your applicant pool, you are missing out on valuable talent that could benefit your organization. We encourage all of our customers to consider applicants of all backgrounds.”

Indeed.com, a Connecticut-based job placement website, announced it would ban companies from posting listings that discriminate against the unemployed after Blumenthal co-sponsored The Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011 in August.

The act  would make it illegal for employers to refuse employment because an individual is unemployed. It would also prohibit employers and employment agencies, like CareerBuilder, from advertising that they won’t consider unemployed persons, and it prohibits them from using employment as a factor during the screening process.

Keough said Indeed.com’s announcement proves a good first step, but it’s not enough.

“This is a step in the right direction,” she said. “But more needs to be done to prevent the discrimination.”

In her job search, Keough said she came across the National Employment Law Project, a national advocacy organization for employment rights for low-wage workers. She said the group asked people to send in their stories about unemployment discrimination. She did, and the group suggested that she write a letter to Blumenthal’s office.

“Some of the currently employed just aren’t going to be as dedicated as someone who really needs a good full time job,” Keough said in her letter to Blumenthal.

Blumenthal’s office used her story in the letter sent to CareerBuilder’s CEO. Keough said the website hosting the Stamford job listing that refused her wasn’t CareerBuilder, but a local job placement website she didn’t want to name. She said she knew the recruiter personally after spending 20 years in human resources.

Keough said job postings and companies that won’t consider hiring the unemployed miss out on hiring dedicated workers who just haven’t found a lucky break yet.

“People don’t choose to be unemployed,” she said. “You can’t say that somebody who’s employed is better than an unemployed person, because it only means that unemployed person hasn’t been tapped on the back yet.”

This story originally appeared at www.CTMirror.org.

 

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Report Shows Young Workers, Minorities Hit Hardest By Recession Job Losses


By Keith M. Phaneuf

HARTFORD — While Connecticut lost over 119,000 jobs during the Great Recession, its impact was not borne evenly as young workers and ethnic minorities suffered disproportionately high unemployment rates, according to a new labor report issued Thursday by a New Haven-based public policy research group.

Connecticut Voices for Children also found long-term unemployment is particularly high, particularly among older workers, while every major sector of the economy except for private-sector health care experienced job losses during the recession.

The report also called for state officials to invest in education and training, as well as transportation improvements, while striving to reduce energy, housing, health care and other high costs that hinder business growth in Connecticut.

“It is troubling that so much of our future workforce – especially young workers and the growing Hispanic population — is unemployed now,” said Orlando Rodriguez, Senior Policy Fellow at Connecticut Voices and co-author of the report.  “This trend does not bode well for our future.”

While Connecticut faces a 9.1 percent unemployment rate, among workers between the ages of 16 to 24, the rate doubles to 18.2 percent.

The study also notes that fewer graduates of Connecticut’s public colleges and universities are finding full-time work within the first year of graduation. For example, while 79 percent of graduates of the Connecticut State University system found full-time work right out of college in 2006, that number fell to 62 percent last year.

Jobless rates also were particularly high among Hispanics and African-Americans, at 17.7 percent and 15.6 percent, respectively. By comparison, the unemployment rate among white residents seeking work is 7.5 percent.

Not surprisingly, Connecticut’s urban centers, where minority populations are highest, felt the impact of the recession most heavily.

Cities with the highest unemployment rates include Hartford at 16.4 percent, Waterbury at 14.5 percent, Bridgeport at 14.3 percent and New Haven at 13.8 percent.

Though unemployment among African-Americans technically dropped from 16.1 percent in 2010 to 15.6 percent this year, blacks in Connecticut also suffer from high long-term unemployment. “It could be that the labor market has become so discouraging for African-American jobseekers for so long that many have dropped out of the labor force entirely since 2009, and are no longer looking for work,” the report says.

While nearly 50 percent of Connecticut’s unemployed population had been out of work at least six months in 2010, among African-Americans the rate approached 60 percent.

Connecticut Voices also found high unemployment in several of Connecticut’s poorer rural towns in eastern Connecticut, including top rates of 11.7 percent in Plainfield and 11.2 percent in Sprague.

By comparison, 10 of the 13 communities with unemployment rates below 6 percent in 2011 are located in the state’s more affluent northwestern or southwestern corners.

The urban and eastern rural unemployment trends could be a function of the continued weakening of the state’s manufacturing industry, which remains centered largely near cities and smaller urban pockets in Windham and New London counties.

The manufacturing segment of the economy suffered the most during the recession, which ran from March 2008 to January 2010. Manufacturing lost nearly 21,000 jobs over that period, during which only the private health care sector grew, gaining a modest 8,303 jobs.

Another contributing factor could be a continued link between educational attainment and success in the labor market.

The unemployment rate last year for those with a high school degree approached 12 percent while for those with only some high school that rate reached 22.6 percent. By comparison the rate for job-seekers with some college education was 9.4 percent.

The last recession also elevated the problem of long-term unemployment in Connecticut to the fifth-highest rate in the country. Though it traditionally has been a problem for racial minorities, the report also found it was particularly problematic for older workers. More than 60 percent of that unemployed population was out of work more than six months in 2010.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has called for a fall special session to focus on job growth initiatives. Malloy, who has been meeting with business leaders and others throughout the summer to gather ideas for legislative proposals, is expected to unveil a package of initiatives before the October session.

Connecticut Voices recommended several components of a comprehensive economic strategy to help achieve new job gains.

The report recommends reviewing all business tax credits and tying any future tax breaks to specific and realistic job creation efforts.

But it also said state government need to increase its focus on education, investing more in the elementary and secondary levels as well as in its public colleges and universities.

“An effective economic strategy for Connecticut must broaden opportunities for all Connecticut workers,” said Matt Santacroce, co-author of the report and policy fellow at Connecticut Voices.  “We can’t afford an economy that leaves so many of our workers behind.”

Sen. Gary D. LeBeau, D-East Hartford, co-chairman of the legislature’s Commerce Committee, said he believes state government has made strides in terms of focusing its tax credits on more specific job creation proposals, and also when it comes to maintaining funding for young students.

The legislature and the Malloy administration launched a new First Five initiative this year that will focus tens of millions of state assistance on each of the first five Connecticut companies to pledge to create up to 200 new jobs.

Lawmakers and the governor also refused to reduce the $1.9 billion Education Cost Sharing grant program for municipal school districts as it eliminated a historic state budget deficit.

But LeBeau agreed that Connecticut needs to do more to educate its future workers at that last step before employment.

“We haven’t invested enough in our community colleges to help them gear up to provide the high-tech skills our students need,” he said.

And though the state is backing a major new initiative to expand biomedical research at the University of Connecticut Health Center, it lags behind in encouraging research into information technology and physical sciences at its flagship university, LeBeau added. “We have been making an enormous investment,” he said. “But it’s going to need even more support.”

This story originally appeared at www.CTMirror.org.

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Unemployment Centers To Remain Open


HARTFORD — Connecticut’s Unemployment Insurance centers will be open on  Dec. 31 for jobless residents to file weekly unemployment claims.

Hours for call centers on New Year’s Eve will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. .

Gov. Jodi Rell in a press release said state officials have worked this year to improve online and telephone technology used by those who file for unemployment insurance.

State offices, including the call centers, were closed Dec. 24 for the Christmas holiday and will again be closed Monday for a statewide unpaid furlough day.

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Unemployment Offices Open on President’s Day


HARTFORD — Unemployed workers in Connecticut may file for benefits on President’s Day Monday.

The Associated Press is reporting that the state Department of Labor’s call centers for filing unemployment insurance claims will remain open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Offices also were open Friday, a state holiday marking Lincoln’s birthday.

The call centers operate on extended hours from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays. The Saturday hours were added recently to help handle a large volume of claims, which are about 40 percent higher than at last year.

Connecticut’s unemployment rate in December was 8.9 percent, up from 6.6 percent in December 2008.

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Surviving Financially While Unemployed


HARTFORD — Unemployment rates have skyrocketed to 8.1 percent in February, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.Many people either know someone who’s been laid off or were laid off themselves. When you lose your job, you may have to put yourself on a financial diet. People tend to eat less when they want to lose weight, and staying afloat financially is no different and really quite simple: spend less.

It’s not an easy process, but it can be done with a little self-discipline, some creativity and a whole lot of planning.

Plan for a six-month period of unemployment. It’s hard to know how long you’ll be unemployed, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average duration of unemployment in February was 19.9 weeks. You may find a new job within a few weeks, or it may take you months. Either way, it’s best to plan for a worst-case scenario. Take this realistic scenario for example:

Week One: You send out ten resumes, and wait for the phone to ring.

Week Two: You send out ten more resumes, and wait some more.

Week Three: You send out five resumes for jobs you really want and five for jobs that you really don’t want. The phone rings! But it’s your mother.

Week Four: The phone rings. Then it rings again. You line up two job interviews and send out three more resumes.

Week Five: You have two interviews and send out five more resumes. You’re called for a second interview at one of the jobs.

Week Six: Good news: You’re hired! Bad news: You can’t start for two more weeks.

As you can see, even a successful job search can take a while, even if you’re a great candidate in a good job market. Prepare yourself for the worst by drawing up a financial plan as soon as you lose your job.

Draft a survival budget. A survival budget is a bare-bones version of your regular budget. This will illustrate what income you need to literally survive on a monthly basis. Start by listing your needed expenses and your post-employment income – i.e. unemployment insurance. Only you can differentiate your wants from your needs.

Expect that life is going to change. When you lose your job, you probably won’t be able to live the same way you did when you had a job. If you’re unemployed only for a few weeks, then your life might not change drastically. Maybe you’ll only need to spend a little less on groceries, go out to eat once every two weeks, and barely dip into your savings account. But if you’re unemployed for months, you need to take a more drastic approach to survive. Take this into consideration when drafting a survival budget.

Map out your priorities – how desperate are you? Desperation can trick you. Things you once said you’d never do seem more and more appealing the more time you spend at home alone with your dog – hardly an exciting lifestyle. When you started your job search, maybe you said, “I’ll do anything to survive, but I won’t sell my Jeep!” Four months later, you’re saying, “Okay, maybe the Jeep has to go, but I’ll never disconnect my cable.”

What are the things you will and won’t do or sell to survive financially? At this point, do yourself a favor and map them out as well.

Find ways to increase your income. There are many ways to increase your income while you look for a new job. First, open an unemployment claim immediately after you leave your old office. You can also check the “Help Wanted” ads in your local paper and the “Gigs” section of Craigslist.org. Both are great sources of finding jobs for quick cash while look for your full-time job.

Negotiate with your creditors. If you’re having trouble paying all your bills, seriously consider negotiating with your creditors. If you have good credit, you may find it relatively easy to reduce the interest rates on your credit cards, skip a payment or two on your car loan, or reduce your monthly payments temporarily. To do this, you’ll have to put aside your pride and admit that you’re having financial difficulties.

Withdraw money from your retirement account. Withdrawing money from your tax-deferred retirement account is an option you should consider only as a last resort to avoid bankruptcy. In general, any money you withdraw from a tax-deferred retirement account will be taxed as ordinary income, and you may have to pay a 10 percent penalty if you’re under age 59½. Some Roth plans allow you to withdraw money tax-free and penalty-free after being vested for five years, and some 401(k) plans allow you to borrow against the balance. Every plan is different, so consult a professional for your options.

Borrow from the cash value of your life insurance policy. If you have a life insurance policy with cash value, such as Whole Life or Universal Life, consider borrowing from the cash balance. You’ll have to repay the money just like a 401(k) loan, but not right away.

Follow the plan. Once you’ve devised a realistic financial plan, stick to it. Like any diet, you’ll be tempted to cheat by spending a little more than you should. That’s okay as long as you cover the loss somewhere else. Remember, your plan is designed to be flexible so that you don’t feel burdened by something that seems unworkable.

Diets don’t last forever. Keep in mind that even though you’re on a financial diet, no diet lasts forever. At some point, you’ll find another job and the crisis will pass. Therefore, you want to be especially careful that the decisions you make now aren’t shortsighted. Don’t sell your car for dirt cheap when you’ll need to buy another one for your next job. Once you get back on your feet, replenish any emergency funds or retirement funds you tapped into. Otherwise, you won’t be prepared for the next crisis.

John D. Coury is a financial advisor with Waddell & Reed, Inc. in Hartford, CT. Waddell & Reed, Inc. Member SIPC.

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