News & Resources

Unemployment claims drop, opportunities rise for debt collectors

Dec 27, 2011 Mike Garretson

The recent spark in the U.S. workforce that saw the unemployment rate drop to 8.6 percent has given thousands of Americans a chance to make money and not have to apply for unemployment benefits. As more Americans gain employment opportunities, they will be more likely to pay their outstanding debts. "There has been some decline in uncertainty, some reduction of immediate recessionary fears in the U.S., and coupled with better data, this suggests firms are a little more willing to hire," Michael Gapen, economist for Barclays Capital, said in a statement. "Labor market conditions have taken a turn for the better in recent weeks. Payroll growth should improve in the coming months." According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits dropped to 366,000, the lowest mark since May 2008. If a debtor had been receiving unemployment checks or applying for benefits, it would be safe to assume that they have had a difficult time paying their debts, and perhaps a renegotiation of that debt could be considered. However, if a debt collector realizes that an individual in debt gains employment or no longer applies for unemployment, this should be a green light to contact them and request payment. According to The New York Times, the unemployment rate was 5.4 percent the last time unemployment claim applications were at this level. This may be a sign that the U.S. labor force is on the road to recovery, and an unemployment rate that had maintained over 8 percent for more than two years may finally decline significantly. Economists have maintained that a major recovery could take at least two years, but for debt collectors, even the slightest dip in the unemployment rate is good news. In order to seem more approachable to a debtor, consider offering adjustable payment plans. For instance, if the debtor is legitimately unable to pay weekly or bi-weekly, adjust the plan so they pay monthly and drive the interest rate slightly higher to make up for any losses. Make sure the debtor realizes that if they pay more sooner, they will pay less in interest. However, the figure will ultimately depend on the paycheck they receive and bills they have to pay, other than their debt to you.