Sucks being unemployed right now

unemployed sign

“Generally speaking, all the data seem to suggest that if you already have a job, the labor market probably doesn’t seem so bad, but if you’re looking for a job, there’s been almost no job market improvement over the last few years,” Michael Feroli of JPMorgan Chase wrote in a note to clients. [NYT]

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Recession forces people to get intimately acquainted with their stoves

1950s woman cooking

"Oh why hello there, Mr. Oven, I'm just hanging out here saving money and looking all domestically hot and stuff"

Readers of this blog already know that more Americans are carrying flasks around than they are embarrassing themselves at expensive bars. You may have also noticed this little thingamajig called Groupon, LivingSocial, or any of its less famous stepsisters that never make you want to leave the house unless it’s for 50% off the nearest restaurant. Combine these two social phenomena and sooner or later you have a trend piece about more people cooking in than dining out. Let’s break down the SHOCKING reasons why. Continue reading

One surprising profession is having a fabulous year

johnny depp pirates

Check your local ports and prisons in case they may be recruiting!

Pirates captured a record 1,181 hostages in 2010 — almost all of them off the Somali coast. “More people were taken hostage at sea in 2010 than in any year since records began” in 1991, said the annual report. [AP]

Shoppers are partying like it’s 2007 again

Let's party like it's 2007

"I've been saving for three years to score these pretty average sheet sets!"

Start pouring the champagne early, ladies and gents! The Times reports that Americans are splurging like it’s BR (before the recession).

After a 6 percent free fall in 2008 and a 4 percent uptick last year, retail spending rose 5.5 percent in the 50 days before Christmas, exceeding even the more optimistic forecasts, according to MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, which tracks retail spending. The rise was seen in just about every retail category.

“For the past year or two, when I’ve seen growth in one area, it seems to come at the expense of another,” said Michael McNamara, vice president for research and analysis at SpendingPulse. “Here, things are actually all moving in the right direction.”

The MasterCard data suggests that the pre-Christmas sales increase was the biggest in five years. Spending reached about $584.3 billion, compared with $566.3 billion in that period in 2007.

“In the face of 10 percent unemployment and persistent housing woes, the American consumer has single-handedly picked himself off the mat, brushed his troubles off and strapped the U.S. economy on his back,” Craig R. Johnson, the president of the consulting firm Customer Growth Partners, wrote in an e-mail.

WOOOOOOOOOT! Looks like all the cash people have been storing in their bedsprings has come out of hiding! So the economy’s all fixed up now and everyone’s going to get jobs, right?

Republicans give 99ers a nice lump of coal for the holidays

santa claus

Not even this jolly old man can help you now.

Benefits that had been extended up to 99 weeks started running out Wednesday. Unless Congress approves a longer extension, the Labor Department estimates about 2 million people will be cut off by Christmas.

Republicans in the House and Senate, along with a handful of conservative Democrats, say they’re open to extending benefits, but not if it means adding to the $13.8 trillion national debt.

Ninety-nine weeks may seem like a long time to find a job. But even as the economy grows, jobs that vanished in the Great Recession have not returned. The private sector added about 159,000 jobs in October — half as many as needed to reduce the unemployment rate of 9.6 percent, which the Federal Reserve expects will hover around 9 percent for all of next year.

Don’t worry, Ivy League grads, your tuition money is going in the right place

cash pile

Looks like hundreds of thousands of dollars well spent!

Columbia University President Lee Bollinger was the Ivy League’s highest-paid president in 2008 at $1.75 million in total compensation, as 30 college leaders received more than $1 million in pay.

Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania joined Columbia as Ivy League schools paying their top executive more than $1 million, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Boy, that $200K of college debt sure feels worth it, don’t it?

85% of you are going to have a curfew again

moving back with parents

Hey guys, I'm baaaack!

Are you a recent grad who can’t afford to pay your own rent? Or a young adult who got laid off and can’t find another job? Congratulations! You’re part of a majority.

Sky-high student debt and minimal job opportunities create a perfect storm for young adults, and will force an estimated 85 percent to return home this year after graduation, according to projections from Twentysomething Inc., a young adult consulting firm.

This is not news anymore, but the numbers are pretty staggering. And in your favor. So feel free to kick back and relax on Mom’s old sofa while looking up porn job hunting. Now that over three out of every four kids are going to be living at home, you have nothing to be ashamed about. This is what our generation does. Whip out your moleskin, write some agitated poetry about being forced to eat brussel sprouts for dinner, then go out on the town and try picking up girls with their own apartments. Ride out this recession in the warm arms of your parents, who love you no matter how many futile resumes you’ve sent out.

We lucky grads get to be called a “boomerang generation” because apparently, we remind old people of flying wooden sticks. Either way, this year will be about “finding yourself” and maybe learning how to balance a checkbook while Daddy pays your rent. Don’t despair! This could be the time you’ve been waiting for to start on that novel or photography project you’ve been talking about for years. Heck, you could even start a blog with all your free hours.

So, fellow unemployed who have been moving home in droves, say goodbye to your independence and hello to warmly cooked meals for the next year or so. Thank god the recession affords you another year to putz around on someone else’s bank account.

A list of stats to recite for your condition while rolling your eyes are after the jump. Continue reading

The recession is the best form of birth control

cute worried baby

Nom nom nom! What? Oh yes, the recession.

Grandparents and ovulating women over the age of 22, avert your eyes. Actually, you may want to sit down for this one.

The number of babies born in the United States dropped 2.6 percent last year, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. And nope, it’s not good old-fashioned women’s lib or those free condoms handed out on the subway that’s causing the decline.

“The birth rate is falling because of the Great Recession. When people are unsure of their financial future, they tend to postpone having children,” Andrew Cherlin, a sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University told CNN.

Nearly half of low- and middle-income women surveyed a year ago by the Guttmacher Institute said they wanted to delay pregnancy or limit the number of children they have because of money concerns, according to the Associated Press. Even more proof? The U.S. birth rate has been declining since the start of the economic downturn in late 2007.

This makes loads of sense. Diapers don’t come cheap. Neither does advanced squash for toddlers.

Your exciting new job opportunity awaits (hint: flexibility’s a plus)

stripper shoes

Job applicants should be fans of flattering men for money and pole dancing for exercise.

If, like millions of people in America, you find yourself out of a job, stripping might be a lucrative career for the young and nimble out there!

The first academic research project into lap dancing by Dr Teela Sanders and Kate Hardy from the University of Leeds discovered that most strippers had at least completed a further education course, while one in four had undergraduate degrees. This means that for many of the ladies working that pole, their profession was a conscious choice with a lack of better options, like for example, blogging.

Unemployed new graduates – mainly with arts degrees – were also dancing because they could not find graduate jobs and found that lap dancing paid much better than bar work. Continue reading

How to date in the recession without revealing your inner cheap ass

jessica rabbit

Experts say hiding certain unseemly qualities, like say passing yourself off as Jessica Rabbit in your pofile pic, will help you find a life mate one day.

The recession has given love a particularly hard time these past few years. (See “Reason #468 why the recession is ruining your love life“). And a few months back, in a clever ploy to get people to remember who they are, online savings bank ING Direct surveyed 1,000 people on which words would come to mind if someone was fixing them up on a blind date with someone described as — god I almost vommed typing this — “frugal.”

Shocker: only 3.7% found that sexy.

Now as someone who has professed her willingness to marry a total stranger for his health insurance benefits, I probably shouldn’t comment on this. But anyway, 15% picked “boring” and 27% chose “stingy.”

Concerned by these sad statistics, NYT money columnist Ron Lieber decided to ask some random online daters for advice. How do you avoid the dreaded F-word? The answer, another shocker: Do what you do regarding everything else in dating profiles. Lie. Continue reading

The Steven Slater Phenomenon explained

steven slater jet blue flight attendant

All hail the hero of the overworked, underpaid working class.

By now, the folk tale of Steven Slater is probably being told in inspiring sing-song at campfires around the nation.

After a passenger on a Jet Blue flight allegedly cursed him out and slammed an overhead bin on his head, Slater did what most of us only dream of doing: he not only told that bitch off (“To the passenger who called me a m—-f—er, f—- you. I’ve been in the business 28 years. I’ve had it. That’s it”), but also took an exit route that we could only imagine happening in the throes of a Gossip Girl episode: he employed the emergency exit and slid down the inflatable slide with two beers in tow.

Yet for all the hoopla, there were also a lot of raised eyebrows: how could anyone quit a well-paying job in this economy? For all of you tsking tsking, Daniel Gross at Slate debunks that misguided thinking and explains why “more and more workers are unhappy”: Continue reading

Avoid these schools unless you have at least $400 million in the bank

student loan debt

This poor kid isn't trying to do his elementary math homework with the help of the cash in his mom's wallet: he's trying to figure out how many years of fake photos he'll have to pose in to pay for one semester of college.

The Washington Post Company released some sobering stats about how expensive an education has become. The Chronicle of Education released a similar report last year that showed university prices steadily growing. This is particularly depressing given that, as you can see, a college degree (even one that can provoke impressed oohs and aahs) isn’t really worth that much anymore. And yet, the number of kids taking out loans has been the highest in nine years.

So you can take your US News & World statistics and shove it. In a far more useful ranking system, Gawker crunched their numbers and revealed the top ten universities that will land you in the highest student debt. See the schools to avoid, no matter how awesome their lavish cafeterias are supposed to be, after the jump: Continue reading

Wait, househusbands may not be the golden ticket young girls always dreamed of

prostitute

This is your unemployed hubby on his "job interview."

Earlier on this blog, we extolled the kickass scenario some lucky wives find themselves in: due to the recession, male breadwinners have become unemployed househusbands who take care of the kids, cook dinner for you, clean the apartment, and help you kick off your stilettos after a hard day of work.

But according to a recent study on infidelity, men who are financially dependent on their wives and live-in girlfriends are five times more likely to cheat than those who made the same amount of money.

Before you throw your pay stubs in your deadbeat husband’s face, you should remember that cheating is still a rare occurrence, the head researcher told NPR’s health blog. Continue reading

The recession has forced alcohol down your throats

don draper picture

I will use any damn excuse to post a picture of Jon Hamm in a suit. You're welcome.

The hottest new recession accessory? A flask in your pocket!

According to a new Gallup poll, we’ve all become Don Drapers: 67% of Americans are getting drunkypants, the most since 1985.

And of those drinking their sadness away, most are doing it in the privacy of their own home instead of some swanky bar. Continue reading

Unemployed law school grad goes on hunger strike

ethan haines tee shirt

Each $20 purchase will help support at least one law school grad's Ramen Noodles dinner.

When I was a young overachiever, my parents once hoped that, like all book-smart JAPs with attitude, I would make the family proud and join the ranks of well-paying society with nothing more than my ability to talk fast and memorize hundreds of pages of jargon: I would go to law school.

Years later when I discovered how much work that would be, I dashed their hopes and dreams and instead pursued the lowlier profession of writer blogger somewhat employed web assistant. Turns out, mom and dad, I was right!

In this economy, even lawyers can’t get jobs! And Ethan Haines, an ’09 law school grad, is fed up with it. So he did what any unemployed JD would do: start a hunger strike. Continue reading

In this economy, “education is basically worthless”*

stack of books

Books have never seemed so useless. (I was a comparative literature major, natch).

In what should be one of the most depressing articles of joblessness to date (a far cry from last year’s perky portrayal of blond twins performing on subways while pursuing the American Dream in New York), the NYT profiles a woman known as a “99er”: a poor soul who has exhausted the maximum 99 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits without any luck in finding a new job. And before Republicans Ben Stein anyone starts claiming that it’s her own lazy fault, take note: almost 1.4 million people were out of work for 99 weeks or more, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

I really hope the Times at least took her out to dinner during the interviews, because, damn, her life seems to be one week short of turning tricks on the street. Let’s recap: Continue reading

Stop Thinking You’re A Jobless Lowlife

couch potato

This photo has been doctored with sepia undertones to mask the identity of this poor, fine-grade specimen of unemployed male.

Unemployed of the world unite: You have nothing to lose but your pot belly!

There is no greater blow to your self-esteem than losing your job. Thanks to all of that menacing free time, you’re more likely to ruminate on how shitty your life is going, how much your wife hates you now, and what a shell of a man you’ve become. (I imagine women on the other hand, like myself, just weep and eat themselves fat while updating their resumes). Clinical Professor of Psychology Robert L. Leahy, Ph.D points out a toxic thread among the unemployed: self-loathing.

British psychologists Adrian Wells and Costas Papageorgiou have found that people who ruminate actually think that they will figure things out, solve a problem and avoid making the same mistake in the future. Of course, there may be some truth that ruminating may “give you closure” or lead to solutions—but excessive rumination simply makes you more depressed.

As it turns out, sulking is not going to lead you to any kind of productive revelation that will magically transform you into a resume-churning member of society by morning.

As Yale psychologist Susan Nolen-Hoeksema has shown, rumination leads to depression and keeps you depressed. People who ruminate withdraw from the real world, often isolating themselves from other people. When you ruminate you are almost always focused on something negative—what is going on in your head. It adds to your sense of helplessness and makes you feel worse.

See the helpful tips from the PhD, who’s conveniently pimping out his new book on depression at Psychology Today, after the jump.

Continue reading

Look no further than the playpen for the real winners of this economy

baby opening present

Those grubby baby paws may look cute, but the adowable wittle fingers are where the downfall of family budgets really begins.

It’s probably no surprise that kids are making out like bandits in this so-called recession. Perfect present fodder like toys and video games barely suffered a dent in sales this year, according to market research firm NPD Group. MarketWatch brings us the no-brainer reasons why:

1) Kids bring out the crazy in us.
“We are not always rational about these things with our kids,” David Palmiter, a clinical psychologist who focuses on children.

2) Presents for any occasion are associated with the divine.
“With things like birthdays, Christmas, the tooth fairy, people regard those to some extent as sacred,” Paul Donahue, a Scarsdale, N.Y.-based clinical psychologist and author of Parenting Without Fear.

3) Parents who do not participate in ceremonial gift-giving may need to see a therapist.

“People are so resistant to make changes because of feelings of guilt, feelings of shame, sadness,” Kathleen Gurney, a psychologist and chief executive of Financial Psychology Corp., a Sarasota, Fla., advisory firm, said.

So there you have it: kids are the new evil Wall Street bankers of this economy.