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Christopher Thompson's Closing the Deal: Granite State's unemployment system is broken

August 31. 2013 3:01AM

I recently became familiar with an aspect of business that I have relatively little knowledge about and no direct experience with: The New Hampshire unemployment system. I had a close friend who recently lost his job and is now going through the process of getting unemployment benefits. Unfortunately for him, the situation was out of his control, and there really was nothing he could have done differently to prevent it.

The situation is grim. Unbeknownst to me, if you lose your job in New Hampshire, the most you will get from the state to help you through the difficult time is $427 per week. No, that's not a typo. That $427 a week is the maximum amount paid if you earn more than $41,500 per year. And you will only get that for a maximum of 26 weeks, so hopefully you find a new job quickly. While this may be a reasonable amount for some, if you have a family and a house, it's just not going to cut it.

The part that I was floored by was not only the low dollar amount he will receive, but also the situation he is facing with medical insurance for his family. When you are employed, it's customary for the company to pay for the majority of your health benefits. When you are no longer employed by that company, they stop paying for your health insurance, and you are on your own.

You may be familiar with COBRA, which give employees who have lost health benefits due to voluntary or involuntary job loss the ability to continue their coverage. But the part that people sometimes fail to realize is that you have to pay for it yourself. For my friend, he has to pay $1,100 per month to continue providing health insurance for his family.

So, here's how the math breaks down, in case you didn't add it all up along the way. My friend loses his job and is now receiving $427 per week, which comes out to about $1,850 per month. He has to pay $1,100 for his health insurance. He now has about $750 left over per month. And with the $750 per month, he has to figure out a way to feed his family, pay his mortgage and keep up with all of the other things in life that require money. The bottom line is that it's a broken system and potentially catastrophic for the average working family.

It's a very unfortunate situation and one that I know many have faced. New Hampshire is an "employee at will" state, which means you can terminate your employment at any time, for any reason. And yes, that means the company can do the same. Most people I know feel very secure in their jobs, but the reality is, you just never know. Things can happen that you have absolutely no control over and you have to always keep that in mind.

So while you work and get taxes taken out of your earnings to help support the people who aren't working, remember, it's a broken system and if you lose your job, you better be ready. Financial gurus suggest having a savings that would allow you to maintain your lifestyle and cover expenses for six months. While that's not possible for everyone to do, it's something you should seriously consider.

As far as my friend, I'm confident he and his family will be fine. He's one of the most talented sales leaders I've ever worked for and with.

I've witnessed him transform struggling sales organizations and help countless people reach their full potential. Leaders like him are rare and eventually, a fortunate company will benefit from his skills and experience.

Christopher Thompson ( writes Closing the Deal weekly for the Sunday News.

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