John Schoen: Why a McDonald's job often beats jobless benefits

Feb. 4, 2011 at 4:44 PM ET

TODAY Money expert and senior writer John Schoen chatted live with readers on Monday afternoon about this morning's jobs report and employment prospects.

Here are two of his answers and a complete archive.

Question from Jordan:

I am 16 and from Michigan. I would like some ideas on what someone my age should do for making money.

Answer from John:

It's really tough as the jobless rate for teenagers (aged 16 through 19) is 25 percent. But that doesn't mean you can't find ways to make money. Some teenagers turn a hobby into a business, like selling things on eBay. Where I live, it's been a great winter for high school kids who shovel driveways. If you put your mind to it, there are opportunities out there. But you may have an easier time making your own job rather than looking for someone else to hire you.

Question from Dennis:

I am trying to decide if I should take a job at McDonalds or collect unemployment. Since they both pay the same, what should I do?

Answer from John:

The point I think you're trying to make here - that jobless benefits discourage people from working - is the subject of much debate among economists and politicians every time the extended benefits come up for renewal.

My personal opinion is that, while three may be cases of people collecting benefits who could get a job, that number is small. Most unemployed people want to work and can't find jobs. If they were simply kicking back and collecting benefits, why are there five unemployed workers for every job opening?

Complete archive:

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