The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

The Unemployment Problem

Posted by The Futility Monster on July 14, 2010 @ 09:41

Cos when you're unemployed all you can do is write fake motivational posters like this one

This morning I was doing my usual political blog reading when I came across a rather depressing post on Daily Kos about unemployment entitled Laid Off – One Year Later.

The post itself is good enough, talking about how unemployment spirals into further unemployment as your long-term identity is eroded. But what made it worse was a delve into the hundreds of comments, where it’s clear there is a huge amount of other people in the same boat, all suffering.

Maybe we’re too casual with unemployment. The damage it does to an individual is far more than just what happens to their finances. Their self-esteem is put under severe challenge. And the longer the unemployment goes on for, the worse the situation gets, and the longer you’re out of work, the more any prospective employer starts to think, “Well there must be a reason why you’ve been out of work for so long…”

This death spiral is bad enough for anyone, but there are two groups that appear to be the hardest hit: the “old” – 50+, and the young. Ageism is the key reason, with the older workers getting shafted as no one really wants to take on someone who might retire soon, and the young because no one wants to take the risk of inexperience, or lack of education.

I know the situation well myself. I graduated in July 2008. It took me six months of trying and failing to get jobs before I actually gave up altogether. Given that I’d left university on something of a high, and did a degree which should really have made me very employable, this radical crash and burn has had, I think, a lasting effect on my personality. Self-doubt is fatal when it comes to job applications, and the more you fail, the more you continue to fail. People who’ve never been unemployed just don’t seem to get that.

Fortunately things aren’t quite so bad here as they are in the USA. But on both sides of the Atlantic real people are suffering. It’s all too easy to ignore unemployment figures, dismissing people as feckless, lazy, unemployable due to government failures in education, people having too high an opinion of themselves, etc… but behind every number on the statistics is a person, someone who is suffering and would more than likely want to work if only they could get a job.

The mistake of past recessions was to ignore unemployment. Keeping people active, keeping people engaged, occupied, busy, training, learning, volunteering… just doing something to keep them ticking over is vital if we’re to ensure we’re not casting millions of our population on the scrapheap, with the consequences to be felt over the next several decades, as happened last time. Parts of Northern England have never recovered.

I hope this coalition government doesn’t forget that.

The Daily Kos post above should be required reading for them.

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