Does This Piss You Off? We Pay Unemployment for Seasonal Workers Repeating the Same Pattern EVERY Year

by Darwin on October 7, 2012


I’ve had it.  This weekend was another case of my hearing  about someone openly bragging about how they work for a season and then collect unemployment during the off-season, you know, because they were “laid off”.  This really just pisses me off.  I mean, not the people so much, because this is the scam our government allows and millions of Americans are doing it, but the notion that our lawmakers are so wasteful with OUR money to not put in a simple mandate that if you’re seasonal, you don’t get frigging unemployment insurance off-season!  This is a choice and a known work/vacation period, and not a surprise “layoff”, so why the heck is it treated as such?

I know, I know, the liberals will cite that this is just a portion of the federal budget and we spend more on wars and “tax breaks for the rich”, but what ever happened to right and wrong?  It all adds up.  Let’s add up the millions of Americans committing disability fraud (conveniently becoming disabled when their 99 weeks of unemployment checks run out), the millions of other unemployment scams, Obama phones (to his credit, not his program, but he got the publicity), and the rest of the free shit army handouts our country permits.  So, here are two examples one person removed from me that I can share personally:


Scott’s Lawn Service Lady

My lawn looks like shit.  I’ve taken care of it myself (not really) for years and we finally reached our breaking point where we need to get it aerated, treated and some other stuff. So, my wife call’s the Scott’s lawn service and she’s mulling over some different options and the lady says, “Well, you better decide today because by tomorrow we’re all laid off and you won’t be able to schedule it”.  My wife, feeling shocked and sorry for her (completely unaware of what was about to come next), says, “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.  They just lay you off like that?”.  The woman replied that this is routine every year, that she just works for the season, gets laid off an then get unemployment.  Here’s the best part.  She said, “You know, we NEED that break.  This job is crazy and we pay into the system all summer, so we deserve some time off”.  Aside from this being completely absurd (a soldier serving in Afghanistan needs some time off, not a woman taking customer orders over the phone), we’re paying for this nonsense in both our own payroll taxes, but it’s even part of the Trillion dollars+ in debt we run up each year (since the federal budget has not been balanced in over a decade).

So, let me get this straight.  These employees know they’re going to only work 5 or 6 months a year or whatever it is, and rather than either getting a different seasonal job in the off-season or budgeting accordingly (based on what they actually earned), Uncle Sam subsidizes them sitting on their ass all winter?  Now, the argument for the plight of the worker (see the shameful image above), is that they can’t pay their bills in the off-season.  Well, ever hear of living within your means?  You Didn’t Earn That!


Christmas Tree Guy

The other situation involves my friend’s family member who works at a Christmas Tree farm each winter.  Same deal.  He just sells Christmas trees for a few months, gets laid off, collects unemployment.  This is just absurd.  During spring, fall and summer, there are any number of other seasonal jobs (or new idea – go get a steady year-round job?!), but no, the taxpayers subsidize these seasonal workers as well.

What Does the Law Say About Unemployment for Seasonal Workers?

Well, that depends on your state because federal law leaves it to the states to decide how to manage this.  Some states are apparently becoming more rigid and disallowing this scam (only after figuring out they’re broke and will be for the foreseeable future), but many states still allow it.  New Jersey for example (headed by a governor who calls bullshit on stuff like this) is introducing a bill to identify sectors that typically only employ people for 9 months or less each year and then disallow unemployment for those workers.  Overall throughout the US though only 15 states prohibit the practice.  Typically, while teachers are ineligible, other employees on the same timescale are (busdrivers, crossing guards, janitors, etc.).

Personally, I think it’s utter nonsense.  If you’re in a job that is seasonal, where you “come back”, you are not unemployed.  You are just enduring part of the routine cycle that you have chosen as your profession.

Other Similar Stuff That Pisses Me Off:

What Are Your Thoughts on Seasonal Unemployment?


{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Lance @ Money Life and More October 7, 2012 at 3:55 pm

I know people who did this for college dining services. They’d get laid off for the summer, collect unemployment then get rehired in the fall. It is ridiculous but it happens all of the time.


Darwin October 7, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Yeah, I guess this has been around forever and it’s now that I’m hearing these examples in real life it’s really gotten on my nerves.


Paul N October 7, 2012 at 7:44 pm

We have this same practice in Canada. Your not alone. This is a generational “habit” in some industries.
The sad part is if you speak to one of these professional loafers your explanation is totally lost on them. They truly believe its their right and they are doing absolutely nothing wrong. They just look at you like you are crazy for suggesting they are doing something other then what they have some kind of twisted right to.
God forbid they get a second job on the off season. Why would they do that when you and I can sacrifice some of our paycheck for them.

This goes with me trying to explain to people that goverment does not give out money from a magic tree. They take hard working people’s money. Money in tough jobs that slowly break down some people’s bodies in certain proffessions then redistribute it to people like the free phone lady or seasonal workers. I truly don’t think they even get that concept. The money does not come from the government. It comes from your neighbours. Be nice to them.


Darwin October 8, 2012 at 5:41 pm

It’s crazy when you’re talking to a group that just doens’t get it and looks at you like you’re the loon. You must be one of those rich fatcats trying to stick it to the common working man…


Financial Samurai October 7, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Hmmm, donno about this. If everybody knows about it (gov’t, employer, employee), is it bad if it’s happening? Employees bake in the fact they are unemployed for parts of the year and can get unemployment (they aren’t guaranteed to have a job once the season starts), and the employers know they can pay LESS than market due to the gov’t unemployment.

If employers didn’t hire these workers, maybe the gov’t would have to pay all 12 months of unemployment!



Darwin October 8, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Of course it’s bad. It’s total bullshit. We all know about getting 30 Obama phones and selling them on the street or not reporting taxable income, but does that make it acceptable? Nobody should bake in anything. It’s a free market. People should be paid the going rate for that skill (typically no skill coming in, learn on the job, save for bus drivers). I’d be curious to see if (COL adjusted) there are state by state differences for the same job in states that allow for unemployment benefits in the off-season vs those that don’t.


Financial Samurai October 9, 2012 at 1:35 am

But that’s the point. It is a free market, which is why this stuff is happening.


Tomare Utsu Zo October 9, 2012 at 10:09 pm

No, it’s not a free market. A free market wouldn’t have money taken at gun point to give to these things.


Seal October 8, 2012 at 12:44 am

I worked at a camp run by the City of LA. The “Director” worked 6 months+ a few days then got laid off for the winter and collected FULL unemployment


Darwin October 8, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Gotta love that. A real inspiring “leader”.


Intangible Investor October 8, 2012 at 6:37 am

Yea, this is really annoying. To know that dishonest, lazy as**s are using our tax dollars for this purpose does make you wonder how effective the government really is. But then again, there are loopholes to every law – these people just managed to find one in the unemployment “laws”.


Darwin October 8, 2012 at 5:45 pm

It’s only a matter of time before more states cut it right? I mean, they’re virtually all going broke and resorting to all kinds of new “revenue” sources like gambling, taxing sodas and all kinds of other money-grabs. If it’s a choice between laying off more teachers or stopping the gravy train, the choice seems pretty obvious to me.


Kevin @ Ask For Benefits October 8, 2012 at 9:39 am

Updated unemployment figures came out the day after last week’s presidential debate. It showed an improvement in the figures, favoring the party that liberals favor.

Harvest season is upon us. I wonder how many seasonal workers lost jobs at the end of the summer, compared to how many started working again?

My guess is that every year about this time we see an improvement in unemployment rates based upon seasonal workers getting work – right around election time. How convenient!


Darwin October 8, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Interesting point; I suppose there are various seasonal patterns that are relatively predictable like the summer work periods, the winter holiday worker periods, etc. And last week’s numbers to me, were very indicative of this seasonal worker issue since several hundred thousand jobs countered were “part time workers” which are anything but fully and gainfully employed


101 Centavos October 8, 2012 at 9:59 pm

New one on me, but maybe I’ve been living under a rock. Not that it surprises me, after hearing about the free cell phone deal, this comes off as a bit of a yawner.


Reason October 9, 2012 at 4:56 pm

I had friends doing this in construction way back in 1995 already. It was a regular thing. They lived in New England, so they would get laid off every winter, and collect unemployment all winter. Even once some of them moved to the southwest, they would still have a construction job for a while, then collect unemployment till they got hired for another one. It wasn’t one long streak, but they might end up working only 7-9 months a year. This is nothing new.

I thought it was pretty sneaky back then, and it irritates me even now, but from a devil’s advocate perspective, if it wasn’t provided, then they might end up leaving that trade, so they could get a dependable full-time job, and then how are we going to keep people in those trades where some talent and experience is beneficial, such as building houses, carpentry, doing drywall. It’s not rocket science, and doesn’t require a college degree, but the guys that are good at it can do a heck of a lot better job of it then I could.

I’m not trying to justify it, I’m just pointing out that abolishing it could have some unintended consequences.


Arthur Shunk October 12, 2012 at 11:31 am

I have never had collect unemployment, so never experienced it directly. However, I recently helped mom get set up for her benefits. In PA, it seems they recently increased the hoops you need to jump through to collect(so many applications submitted to week, job fair attendance, using their online job screener, etc.). However, you are exempt from that for a certain period of time if you have written notice from your employer that you will be hired back on a certain date.

So, it seems in a least one state anyway, that a seasonal job is not necessarily considered gaming the system.


jay November 2, 2012 at 12:26 pm

We recently fired a guy for doing drugs on the job. He filed, claiming laid off from lack of work. We sent in the paperwork to contest this. Got another letter stating he would get his full benefits from state of Michigan, and if we wanted to contest it again to send in his lab results. We did this (His labs were off the graph). We found out the unemployment office still gave him his full unemployment. amazing


Darwin November 3, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Holy crap; don’t you just love this stuff? See, this is what happens when it’s government workers doling out other people’s money. They just don’t give a crap. I’d love to get to the individual that made that call (or designed the procedure to allow this) and ask, “Will you pay this guy’s benefits with your own money”? That’s the ruse of government programs. The bureaucrats just don’t give a crap.


diana July 2, 2013 at 5:11 pm

school bus drivers are off for 2 weeks for winter break(no paycheck)then they are off 2 weeks in the spring(no paycheck).Then they are off 7 weeks in the summer(no paycheck).A driver went looking for a job during those 2 week breaks,oops,know one would hire her,why,cause it was time to go back to work being a school bus driver.Summer came,the driver again went looking for a job,when telling the employer that she would be leaving when school started up,he said that she needed to go look for a seasonal job!So then the jobs that are available are know being broken down to just a few.Guess what,she was turned down again when she found one job that was hiring for the season and a kid on summer break got it!These school bus drivers have to have a physical every 1 to 2 years and pass,or be out of a job.You have to have a CDL to drive these commercial vehicals,you have to be state certified every year with the state,so it is endless testing!You have to be CPR certified,these ppl are required by the state,to have saftey meeting at least 4xs a year.They get up at 4 am every morning and drive in the dark no matter the weather, in the snow,sleet and ice to take your children to school everyday.Most of them are low pay,cant save enough money for the time they have off,every paycheck counts,and you hear ppl say over an over GET A JOB because they are off 2 weeks,are you kidding me!What I would really like to see happen with this issue?Shut the school transportation down and make parents be responsible to taking their kids back and forth to school each day for the 9 months or so!Then these school bus drivers can go file for unemployment cause they are REALLY out of a job.Try taking 11 weeks of pay out of your pocket a year,see how you like that!Now they either drive these buses for your kids or not?Your call…….I vote shut them down,let them find another job,YOU take your kids to school and call it a day.


AnonRichy October 14, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Love it Diana!

& @Pissed off author – Please tell me how people that work for minimum wage – are supposed to be able to save $ to last through the summer break???? & they probably collect all of $150/week unemployment. They probably wish they were working!!! Just because a few abuse doesn’t mean all do. And just like Diana said, who’s gonna hire them knowing they will leave again in a few weeks. Who’s gonna prepare the school lunches, sweep the floors, etc., if they all go through a scenario similar to the one above. Not to mention when new employees are hired, payroll taxes are higher until the FICA & SUTA limits are reached, so most employers want to invest in/hire someone to stay , not turn around & leave in a few weeks & require them to hire another new employee which in turn requires them to start all over with the FICA & SUTA limit.


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