Who Are The Unemployed?


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As most of us know by now, unemployment in the U.S. has reached the highest point in these last few years that it has in the past few decades. Not everyone is getting a job as easily as my wife. While claims come and go about the causes of unemployment and how to fix it, the reasons for this change are many and diverse. People are not just unemployed because they fail to take initiative. Some people are forced to not work because of external forces, like the bad economy or even personal injury. Recognizing the financial difficulty and stress this puts on families is important because it helps broaden the scope of the unemployed. It helps us move beyond the equation of the unemployed with lazy individuals.


Some people are not able to work because they had an accident at work. Often times it is because they were working in a job that required physical labor, but not always. A fall at work or unexpected injury of any sort can cause disabilities that last a long time. If the employee is having difficulty receiving all of the benefits that are due to them, they may have to file a claim for personal injury compensation. This can be a long process and it only adds to the amount of stress.

Laid Off Unexpectedly

As a result of the poor economy, companies are shutting down or going out of business. This leaves people who have been working at these jobs for decades out of work. While they may have been good at their job, it doesn’t equate with being talented with getting another job. Performing well on the job and marketing yourself are two different things entirely. While employees are no longer staying at their job very long these days, it still doesn’t mean that they have mastered the skills to get a job. Combined this with the horrible economy that put them in this situation in the first place and it means a tough road ahead.

College Graduates

College graduates are another group of people who often find themselves unemployed. They graduate college with a four year degree expecting to have a ticket to success. Instead, they find themselves in a volatile economy with lots of applicants for every job. Their lack of experience in the work force puts them at a huge disadvantage. They may be ambitious, but they too haven’t refined the skills that is required to land a job. The most resourceful graduates will take what they can get for the time being and try to gain some experience. They may even take an Americorps position that literally pays less than minimum wage in order to get experience in their field. Their ability to stay at home for another year or two while they get their feet on the ground allows them to be under-employed instead of unemployed.

Getting a Job Isn’t Easy

In this economy, while I do think that there are creative ways to make money and save for your future, getting a job is not easy by any means. Recognizing the multiple causes behind employment helps to show that those who are unemployed have more complicated stories than just laziness.

What other causes are there for unemployment?


15 Responses to Who Are The Unemployed?

  1. 101 Centavos says:

    In these days of ever-increasing regulations and heightened compliance awareness by companies, lapses in judgment that might have previousy been tolerated and coached away, can now hasten an employee’s exit.

  2. Tim Jonson says:

    Most effective article. Thanks for sharing nice tips.

  3. There is also a disparity between regions and the unemployment rate. Nevada has the highest rate of unemployment at 14% while North Dakota has the lowest at 3.5%. This disparity is in part a representation of how diversified the local economies are.

  4. I would also add to the college point that careers are becoming more specialized. You can’t get too many jobs with a 4 year degree now. A lot things want a masters or a phd. Lack of experience is not the only strike against grads these days.

  5. Increased government regulation has added to less corporate hiring as well as a less knowledgeable work force. The longer someone stays unemployed the more training is required if/when a company hires them. It’s a sad state. But sometimes it’s best to take any job instead of waiting for a job you want.

  6. YFS says:

    I think some of the causes are over expansions in certain industries. For example the tech boom. Many people focus too much time and effort on being successful in industries that are susceptible to booms/bust. They make a ton of money in say 5 years then struggle the next 5. Now imagine if you put your entire career into an industry which changed how it does business. ie.. auto manufacturing, telephone operator, data entry. So on and so forth. Sometimes, your skills become obsolete.

  7. YFS says:

    Being in a global economy is also cause for a lot of unemployment. It is cheaper to build the product somewhere else and sell it here. Or move a datacenter to another country with lax employment standards. So laziness is not the cause, it’s either adapt or die.

  8. I think that not being a top notch performer can get you laid off quicker than before. Companies are trying to become as lean as possible, and if you aren’t willing to give 110 percent, you might find yourself being walked out the door.

    I hate to say it, but I think age is causing some to be unemployed. When deciding to lay people off, I do think some companies are taking age (meaning, higher wages and more vacation time) into account, even though they would never say it.

    • Jonathan says:

      This is a point that I think is sad, and sort of pathetic on behalf of the companies. Working your employees to death will do nothing to improve profits. There needs to be a very healthy balance between work and non-work, and many companies are catching on. The ones that don’t and expect their employees to work 60 hours a week will suffer in the end.

      I mean there’s only so much money to be made, before it doesn’t really matter anymore.

  9. MoneyCone says:

    Some sectors like manufacturing were hit hard. If a region was too focused on such a sector, unemployment is bound to soar in that region. (Detroit comes to my mind)

  10. I was laid off from my first two jobs out of college–one year at the first (2006) and two years at the second (2008). It felt like I would never find a job after each happened, but I kept trying and thankfully got into my new career. Each time took me three months to find gainful employment. Fortunately, neither of these times took place during the recession.

    • Corey says:

      It can be quite difficult to find employment. I’m glad you weren’t facing that challenge now. 🙂

  11. […] Just because I’ll join the ranks of the unemployed (briefly, briefly) doesn’t mean that I’m really unemployed.  When you hear that nearly 10% of the country is unemployed don’t you wonder who’s included?  Well 20′s Finances comes to the rescue with Who Are The Unemployed? […]