A cook, a factory worker and a Costco associate
Unemployment pays 67% more. Should I work?

Unemployment pays 67% more. Should I work?

“Tell me more” I replied. This is what I was told:

My name is Maria. I am a cook at a small restaurant in Livingston, NJ. The owner, Jenny, is a great boss. I work 40 hours, she works 70. I make $14 an hour. The other cook went on unemployment and gets $23.40/ hour (including the $600 incentive). I am a single parent with 2 children. By going to work, I am exposed.

Business dropped by 95%, but if I don’t come to work, Jenny won’t be able to manage by herself. She will be forced to close. She needs at least 2 people. The owner has always been there for me. I know that if I ask her, she will say “take care of your family”. She always put others first. What should I do?


I am a factory worker in NJ. I work for a small, family-owned business. The owners always do the right thing. In 2008, they didn’t fire anyone.

Sales dropped by 90%. They have been able to ship some orders from inventory. We are at home, but they keep paying us. I work 20 hours a week for $16 per hour. The rest of the time I go to school. Unemployment will get me $39 an hour. Think about it. The $600 for someone working 20 hours works out to $30 per hour. To that, we add 60% of $16 or 9.60. In total I get $39.60. I don’t know why anyone hasn’t claimed unemployment.

Last week the family reduced wages by 50%. I figured if I go on unemployment, everyone will follow.

But I feel bad. The owners are good people. They have always been there for us. When they get the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), they’ll raise my wages back to $16.

I read in The Wall Street Journal that small businesses who got the PPP can’t lure their workers back. Why would workers come back ? They’ll make a lot less if they do. I am worried I will ruin all the work the owners did to get the PPP. What should I do?


In the US today, most people making $24 an hour are better off staying at home. They’ll make more money and won’t be exposed. Many go to work out of a sense of duty. Teachers at day cares, who care for the children of our nurses and police officers, is one of example.

When I went to Costco last night, I thanked each employee I came across, one by one, including the one in this picture. I overheard one of them saying she wishes more customers would do that. In my opinion, these are our heroes.

Unemployment pays 67% more. What should we do?


Note: the stories and numbers are all real and based on feedback provided to me for the work I do about PPP. The Costco picture is mine. The other two are not to protect the privacy of the two folks who shared the details.



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