Jobless workers dispute claim that unemployment benefits foster complacency
The idea that extended benefits discourage people from seeking work is an insult, unemployed workers say. ‘Let ’em walk a mile in our shoes,’ one jobless woman says of unemployment critics.
It’s an old theory that’s gaining new political currency: By cushioning the blow of unemployment for nearly two years, jobless benefits discourage recipients from looking for work.
The claim, most frequently advanced by conservative pundits and politicians aligned with the conservative “tea party” movement, is seen as a fresh insult by the nation’s suffering unemployed workers.
Those damn conservatives and their damn insulting conservative claims.
For the ‘funemployed,’ unemployment’s welcomed
These jobless folks, usually singles in their 20s and 30s, find that life without work agrees with them. They’re not sending out resumes, but instead lazing at the beach and taking long trips abroad.
Michael Van Gorkom was laid off by Yahoo in late April. He didn’t panic. He didn’t rush off to a therapist. Instead, the 33-year-old Santa Monica resident discovered that being jobless “kind of settled nicely.”
Week one: “I thought, ‘OK . . . I need to send out resumes, send some e-mails, need to do networking.”
Week two: “A little less.”
Every week since: “I’m going to go to the beach and enjoy some margaritas.”
What most people would call unemployment, Van Gorkom embraced as “funemployment.”
While millions of Americans struggle to find work as they face foreclosures and bankruptcy, others have found a silver lining in the economic meltdown. These happily jobless tend to be single and in their 20s and 30s. Some were laid off. Some quit voluntarily, lured by generous buyouts.
Buoyed by severance, savings, unemployment checks or their parents, the funemployed do not spend their days poring over job listings. They travel on the cheap for weeks. They head back to school or volunteer at the neighborhood soup kitchen. And at least till the bank account dries up, they’re content living for today.