What “discouraged workers” are doing to survive unemployment may surprise you

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According to investopedia.com, discouraged workers are those who have, “… given up on searching for a job because they found no suitable employment options and/or were met with lack of success when applying.” Interestingly, not all individuals that have lost their jobs and that are also termed “discouraged workers” are completely out of steam. What they are doing to survive unemployment may come as a surprise to you!

1) Many discouraged workers are becoming entrepreneurs:
As a result of the challenges presented by the current economy, unemployed workers forced to get creative with their careers are embracing entrepreneurism. Supported by multiple online reports and documentaries such as Erik Proulx’s Lemonade movie, jobless workers are ditching the search for employment by others and are successfully hiring themselves instead. According to the Kauffman index, 2009 is the year to be, “remembered as the year business startups reached their highest level in 14 years.”

2) Some discouraged workers are going back to school:
Unemployment presents an opportunity for individuals to update their skills or acquire new skills. As a result, many discouraged workers are finding their way back to school. 75 college presidents have reported a double-digit enrollment, according to George Boggs, president of the American Association of Community Colleges, in a recent CNN article.  This account is supported by Judy Jeffrey, Director of Iowa State’s Department of Education, who has also acknowledged the recent rise in the number of enrolled community college students.

3) Other discouraged workers are volunteering their time to keep their work experience current:
From Pro Bono assignments, to helping out at various healthcare institutions, or even homeless shelters, the unemployed are not staying idle as they lend their expertise and time to those who can use them. Volunteering one’s time does not just benefit the institution that receives assistance, but helps the volunteer maintain a sense of meaningful existence, while keeping their skills current.

4) A good number of discouraged workers are seizing this opportunity to do those things that they have always wanted to do:
There exists a population of jobless individuals who do not seemed worried at all, as they take advantage of the economy to comb the beaches, travel the world, catch up with family and friends, or just kick back and relax, these are the “funemployed!” According to Kimi Yoshino, in a recent Los Angeles times article, “These happily jobless tend to be single and in their 20s and 30s.”

5) Still a significant number of discouraged workers are doing… Nothing!
There are individuals out there that have become so discouraged by the bleak economic environment that they have completely given up not only on the job market but also on trying to further or sustain their careers in anyway. Such individuals have attempted job-searching and may also have attempted entrepreneurship with little or no success.

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4 responses to “What “discouraged workers” are doing to survive unemployment may surprise you

  1. Julie Oli July 13, 2010 at 2:18 PM

    Hi Christine, I enjoyed your article on ‘What “discouraged workers” are doing to survive unemployment’ . Last year, I was utterly discouraged with my prospects of finding a job, any junior job in my field although I had a bachelors degree in Accounting. I moved to the States recently and spent nearly 2 years unemployed. So I went back to college looking at licenses and certifications in the healthcare field, I got hired straight out of school and have been employed for the past 2 months on a flexible shift pattern that allows me to still further my education. Life is great, and I hope other discouraged workers would consider returning to school, a late career change is still a step in the right direction in the current economic climate!

  2. missdisplaced July 12, 2010 at 2:39 PM

    I went back to school and finished my degree. Sadly, this seems to make me even more unemployable. Now, I am overqualified for nearly everything. Without any more unemployment benefits, I’ve applied at many retail stores, grocery stores, and restaurants, etc. As soon as they see the college degree, they won’t call or hire you because they really DO NOT WANT SMART EDUCATED PEOPLE.

    Yes, I was actually told that by a big-box retail store. Their reason is that “you will leave when things get better,” but we all know the real story.

    • Christine N. Udeani July 14, 2010 at 5:00 PM

      Thank you for your comment. I have heard this complaint numerous times, I have also been a victim of the label “over-qualified.” Of course, this doesn’t make much sense to a candidate – when you need a job, you need a job. Some experts will advice you to “dumb” down your resume. Which simply means that you should include on your resume only those qualifications relevant to the job you are applying to. On the other hand, you have to try and see things from the employer’s perspective. When an employer makes that decision to hire, they want to know that the employee is happy with their position and not looking to leave immediately they find something new. I however do sincerely wish you the best with your job search.

    • Gary July 18, 2010 at 7:57 AM

      Hello Missdisplaced,

      It is tough out there! Survival is the key! Professionals, Retail, wholesale, manufacturing , store clerk, college degrees, high school drop outs we are all in this mess together! I know that you will never give up! Somehow you start a company on the web. Order a book called “The Recessiom-Busting Guide to Making Money Online from Home” Author Clark R. Covington.

      “You are born in this world with nothing, you will die in this world with nothing” The caveat is the experiences you create! Enjoy life, and do 3 acts of kindness for the less fortunate, then the magic will occur. Do this everyday for a week and you will see! Contact me if you would like!

      “the greatest glory in living lies not in never falling but in rising everytime we fail” Nelson Mandella

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