How Does That Make You Feel? Unemployment Edition

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.

October 15th in Washington Square Park: A Photo Essay

Saturday October 15th was billed as a “global day of action,” in 1000 cities worldwide. As people took to the streets in major cities, many smaller groups converged in Washington Square Park to begin their marches towards banks and Times Square, while others remained in the park to rally.

1. A group of protesters march out of Washington Square Park towards banks. A short time later protesters at a bank close to the park would be arrested while attempting to close their bank accounts.

2. The gathered crowd, a mix of protesters, journalists, and interested people, as seen from the east side of the park.

3. Police barricaded the perimeter of Washington Square Park’s famous and recently renovated fountain.

4. The table of a group distributing a socialist newspaper.

5. Two of the people distributing a socialist newspaper answer questions for a passerby.

6. Young people stand on stone park benches to get a better view of one of the many speakers. Different groups were in circles all around the park, sharing information via the “people’s microphone.

7. Older women (and a veteran) stand back from the crowd while trying to hear a speaker in the park.

8. An older Puerto Rican protester shares a laugh with a man who just took his picture.

doctors rally arch

9. A group of people in doctor’s coats stand together with a sign that says “Doctors for the 99%” on the north side of the park. They were one of many separate circles sharing information at the time. As seen through the Washington Square Arch.

10. The Washington Square Arch as seen from outside the park. Police and tourists kept their distance, but many took pictures of the action from behind the barricade surrounding the arch. The “Doctors for the 99%” sign is visible on the lower left.

[all photos by Daisy Rosario]

Young, Unemployed, and Having Mixed Feelings

worried square cathredfern

Lisa Magid and Katie Simon are both 25 years old and unemployed. Add in the fact that both are interested in improv comedy and there is good reason to think that they probably have a lot in common. But when it comes to unemployment, they’re taking it differently.

Simon, a graduate of Columbia University, was working as a software developer when she was laid off. She had high hopes for all the things she could get done with her newfound free time. She didn’t anticipate the malaise that can take over a person without a set schedule. Simon said she found it, “harder to get things done than I thought it would be.” Despite working in one of the few industries that has consistently had work available over the last few years, she now worries about finding her next job. Simon says she is bad at interviewing and that getting a new job might be harder than she originally thought.

Magid is taking it all in stride. Having recently graduated from Brandeis, she was working as a server when she became unemployed.  Now she does occasional part-time work as a transcriber. “I feel like I’m young enough that I don’t mind,” said Magid. In fact, the idea of being employed might hold more terror for her. Magid said she was “scared to be employed in a way because I’m scared I’ll get stuck.” Her fear is, in part, motivated by the high unemployment rate. She worries she would feel so grateful to have a job that she’d stay even if she hated it.

Unemployment can be a mixed blessing for some. Fill out the survey below to explain where you stand, whether you are unemployed or underemployed.

[above image courtesy of cathredfern via flickr]

Job Rejection Worse Than Relationship Rejection?

rejected banner

“This rejection is worse than in relationships,” says Dave Ritz, 45. With unemployment holding strong at 9.1%, Ritz is one of many Americans struggling to cope with the insecurity of unemployment. He goes on interviews but doesn’t get hired.

He went on to explain that at least with a relationship, you can always think of there being some reason it doesn’t work, that person just isn’t the one. Jobs are different, though, in a way that he says makes it “more personal.” “Jobs are like clothes,” says Ritz. What he means is, they’re adjustable. You can make changes to fit them or make them fit you. So when it doesn’t work out with a job, it hurts all the more.

As someone who is 45 years old, Ritz goes up against younger people for the same jobs and worries that the rejection will happen before he even has a chance to truly represent himself. “I’m a little bit older,” he says, adding that he feels potential employers “don’t value all the skills” that he has accumulated.

And he does have skills. Ritz had an extensive resume in the hotel industry before moving to New York. Once here he made a very good living as a waiter in a hotel restaurant. Being a waiter was a step down for him, since he had hotel management experience, but the pay was good and the benefits were great. Until one day when he and 30 other people were called in and told they were being laid off. Ritz claims that 10% of the hotel staff lost their jobs that day.

Ritz has interviewed for and tried jobs he wouldn’t normally want because of his long-term unemployment. One job involving ferrying children to tourist attractions had him out from around 4am until after midnight and paid less than $100 for the entire day. That does hurt.

So I pose the question to you: Can the rejection of unemployment hurt more than the rejection of a relationship?

[image courtesy of Sean MacEntee via Flickr]