Weeks ago I put up a survey about how it feels to be unemployed. I’d already encountered three people who were experiencing unemployment in different ways; long-time unemployed Dave Ritz, and two recent college graduates, Lisa Magid and Katie Simon.
Let’s just acknowledge right away that this is an informal survey, and I only had a small pool of respondents. But there are a few answers in which there was real consistency, so let’s focus there.
The last question of the survey asked people to describe how they felt others viewed them because of their unemployed status. All but three respondents wrote either “lazy,” or some synonym of lazy.
Lazy is a hot word right now. President Obama recently used it in reference to a lack of foreign investment on the part of the American government. Republicans jumped on the President’s remark, some claiming he called the American people lazy, others saying it showed the President didn’t see the country the way its citizens did. And with all the back and forth as to whether to not Occupy Wall Street is a legitimate movement or a bunch of lazy hippies, the word’s connotations might be stronger than ever. If nothing else, this survey shows that these people believe they will be viewed in that light.
The survey also asked people how hopeful they felt that they would find work, and once they did find work, how likely it was that the job would pay enough. The numbers hovered right around the middle on finding work again, but the majority of respondents were – to varying degrees – less hopeful about finding work that paid well.It may be a small survey, but it definitely showed that being unemployed makes these people feel anxious, and worried that others will see them as less than. Whether or not you think the unemployed actually are lazy, it looks like at the very least it will make you feel as if you’ve failed.
This is fun lazy, that’s not the lazy they mean.