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Would you rather get laid off or keep your job but work fewer hours?

A growing number of states are leaning towards the latter option, relying on a work-share system. These programs allow companies to reduce severance payments and training costs, and thus retain more of their employees during the tough economy. Rather than lose their jobs completely, employees work fewer hours and get paid less, but they can make up for their losses by collecting a small amount of unemployment.

Now, USA Today reports that seven states are looking to pass legislation that would create work share programs. The states are Colorado, Hawaii, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Seventeen states already have these programs in place, saving more than 150,000 jobs last year, according to the National Association of State Workforce Agencies. The benefits are obvious – employers save money and employees don’t end up in bread lines. Perhaps this legislation combined with the new jobs bill that just passed the Senate can finally help to alleviate the unemployment crisis in America. And while the state government does have to pony up unemployment money, they are ultimately paying out less than they would if those employees were simply laid off.

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