Today’s New York Times repeats several themes I’ve encountered in the early stages of the News Cut series, “The Unemployed.”
The exception is that in Out of Work, Too Down to Search On, the Times profiles people who have given up the job search.
“When you were in high school and kept asking the head cheerleader out for a date and she kept saying no, at some point you stopped asking her,” one job-seeker said. “It becomes a ‘why bother?’ scenario.”
Several said they’ve given up looking because “it’s a waste of time.” One is taking care of his parents, a 62-year old gave up and filed for Social Security benefits, another is a stay-at-home mom, and a fourth isn’t really doing anything.
One even said he gave up looking “for economic reasons.” Unless one has a luxury of choice, it’s unclear — at least to me — what a suitable alternative to looking for a job is.
On NPR’s people on Weekend Edition Sunday, we heard a follow-up on the lives of several people to whom the network talked in the days after the financial crisis a year ago. One woman had started her own landscape business, another worked at Target and worked as a substitute teacher rather than take unemployment. “I decided I could make more money off unemployment, and unemployment was kind of depressing because you sit home a lot… being useful and mentally being engaged is much more positive than sitting there collecting a check.”
Almost 15 million Americans are officially unemployed, a situation that’s approached in 15 million different ways.