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With U.S. unemployment at a 20-year high, some Americans are working for free while looking for a job, but experts are split over whether it is a sign of dedication or desperation.
Unpaid job seekers can keep their resumes fresh by boosting their experience and learning new skills, experts say, but others warn businesses may take advantage of the jobless and that it is illegal for commercial companies not to pay workers.
It's not only the unemployed taking on free work. Some employed people are being asked by bosses to go without pay.
Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Washington D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute, warns that while people can volunteer time for non-profit groups and government, it is illegal for commercial companies to not pay workers.
"It's not just a bad idea, it's illegal," Eisenbrey. "The law says (companies) may not suffer or permit employees to work for less than the minimum wage.
"The more desperate people get, they will do things like this to try and make themselves more appealing to an employer," he said. "The short-term prospects for most of the unemployed are very bad. They aren't going to be made much better by working off the books or working for nothing."