Unemployment explained

So, first, the unemployment insurance (UI) bit:

1. UI is not available to just anyone: you only qualify by losing your job in under very specific circumstances.

2. Unemployment insurance is just that: insurance. A typical worker has spent decades paying into it precisely so he or she can collect it when they need it.

3. To receive UI, you can’t “do nothing”. You have to look for work. Every week. And prove it. Every week.

4. UI pays a pittance. A bare survival stipend to keep food on the table. That is all.

5. Contrary to the age-old “welfare queen”-baiting racism and “Poor = Lazy/ Rich = Virtuous” class warfare meme of the Right, the average unemployed worker wants to work. Typically, he or she is out there every fucking day knocking on doors and being told “no”, applying online to companies from which they never hear back, working their ever-fraying network of friends and former colleagues, sending out hundreds of resumes. They fail because…

6. There are no fucking jobs.

Also too…

7. If you are over 45 there is a terrifyingly high probability that our economy will never produce another substantive job for you again.

From personal experience… yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and YES. Ok., the last yes is not from personal experience as I’m only 30. But I’m hearing from many people over 45 (and even 40) that it seems to be the case.

Also on this topic, check out Megan Cottrell’s excellent series on the 99ers (people who have collected unemployment for the maximum allowable 99 weeks and still have not found work):



  1. Anonymous December 8, 2010

    Yeah, try being over 50. I’m 54 and can’t get arrested.

    I’m lucky enough to already have a job, although its benefits begin and end with “you’re lucky to have a job.” I’ve been trying to get out for two years and it really is tough.

  2. Anna Tarkov December 8, 2010

    Wow, I’m sorry to hear that you have no benefits. I hear that you can get very affordable plans through a broker who will find you the best deal for what you’re looking for.

  3. Anonymous December 9, 2010

    Anna, no, I didn’t mean “no benefits” literally. The job actually has a pretty good health plan. It’s just that, since the parent company took over two years ago, we’re doing twice the work with half the staff and 25% less pay. Most of the good younger people have left, and it’s discouraging to feel left behind because of your age.

    Enough whining, though. The people without jobs are the ones who really have it bad.

  4. Anna Tarkov December 9, 2010

    I’m guessing you work at a newspaper? :)

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