My take on the Unemployment Puzzle
Angry Bear has some interesting posts here and here. There is much speculation about why so many people in the US have given up looking for work and dropped out of the labor force. I think the reasons are varied, but I do agree that there's probably a lot of people going back to school. If I could afford the tuition and books that's the road I'd take in the hopes that by the time I got my degree, the job market would have improved and I'd have even greater earning potential. I can't bank on that hope enough to take out a student loan and the last thing we want right now is more debt. We managed by drastically cutting our expenses and consumer spending in order to get by on just one income which, as fate would have it, turned out to be the one that was substantially smaller of the two. Much to our surprise, we found that life was still good and in some respects, much better. I've worked at high-stress, long hour, salaried jobs since my early 20s. I never worked less than 50 hours a week and often put in over 100 hours a week. This wasn't the chore that it sounds since I've always liked my jobs and enjoyed most of the work (though there's always those few things that a person just hates to do.) However, after being unemployed for a year, my outlook has definitely changed. I have no intention of getting another high-stress, 50 plus hour a week job. The extra income, especially after taxes, is simply not worth it. I applaud those work-alcoholics who have picked up the extra work left behind in the wake of layoffs and attrition because I was once one of those people. I know how much effort, energy and sacrifice it can take when you absorb three other people's jobs in addition to your own and since you still have an income, you can reward yourself with that new HDTV. However, I don't think I can ever go back to that way of life.