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Unemployment and Your Business

Recent figures put unemployment in the state of Arizona at 9.7%, which represents one of the highest figures since the 1980’s. We all know that the economy, both locally and nationally, is in a recovery period, but that does not help with the current state of things. What does unemployment mean to a business owner? Can we take advantage of the situation, or is it just another aspect of the current downtrodden economic cycle?

How Does Unemployment Affect Me Again?

As an employer you likely know that you pay an unemployment tax. As long as you have anyone working for you at least part time 20 weeks per year or pay a worker $1500 in a quarter, you are subject to the tax. The actual costs to individual businesses differ based upon how much your payroll is and how long any former employee that you are currently paying out worked for you during their base period. The base period is a predetermined amount of time that the state deems representative of an individual’s income. If employees receive unemployment, the amount they receive is based upon how much they earned during the base period.

In essence, if a worker was under your employ for the whole base period, you pay the employer’s entire share of their unemployment payments (the State and Federal Governments also contribute to unemployment payments). Likewise if they worked for you for half of the base period you pay half and so on. You are charged by the state and they compile your unemployment payments into an account. When former employees are granted unemployment, the state takes money from your account and uses it to pay part of the payments. If your account ever gets too low, you can expect your unemployment taxes to increase.

Unemployment taxes are an unavoidable part of running a business that hires on workers. As you can imagine, the current economic times mean that a significant amount of money is being paid to citizens who are out of work. Some businesses are likely experiencing increases in taxes due to their accounts being drawn below acceptable limits. Hence it is costing them more money to do business, possibly with less staff. This is definitely a negative aspect of unemployment and the current economy.

So What Can We Do?

Since giving up is not an option for most business owners everyone must find ways to deal with the situation. As a staffing company, we are obligated to point out that using our services could help you bypass the unemployment costs associated with some of your new hires. When it comes to temporary workers, we are the employer so we handle the unemployment costs for you. We can let you bring on new people and try out new positions. Instead of your payroll, and of course your unemployment taxes, going up, your expenses do. While this might sound bad at first, increased expenses equal less taxes in the long run, so by using temps you could actually decrease your taxes and get the workers you need. Not a bad deal.

Otherwise as employers it is important to remain positive and optimistic. We can look at the large pool of unemployed workers as potential opportunity. It means that we have more options to choose from to staff our businesses, so long as you have the time to evaluate multiple candidates. It also means that we should all be focused on growth. The lessons learned from running a lean staff have shown us how to effectively operate with fewer people. They have also shown us the value of having a few more sets of hands around. As we grow, our businesses we will be able to effectively put the citizens of Arizona back to work, while increasing our own profits. That has the potential to be a win-win situation.

Sources:
Business Week
Arizona Department of Economic Security

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