Thursday, July 9, 2009

Unhappy math

An article in CNN Money yesterday ("Stuck in a crappy job - tough") highlighted what I've seen happen to my still-employed friends for quite some time now: That, because of the severely diminished ability to just find a job, the folks who haven't been laid off are hunkering down and staying put. Many of them are doing so in jobs they are starting to really dislike, where they have a huge increase in responsibility for just as much (or less) pay.

Apparently, according to this article, 54% of currently employed Americans plan to look for a new job as soon as the economy starts to rebound. What that tells me is that over half of the employed people are unhappy. If you're unemployed, you're likely not happy either. I wouldn't say it's all 100% of us, because there are good days and there are bad days, but in the end, our daily lives and activities are more enjoyable than actually working. Sure, it's clouded by the uncertainty of your entire future, but I, for one, have learned to accept that whatever happens will happen and that I'm doing my best to stay afloat (and even a little ahead) in this crappiest of times. So there's probably people out there like me who are making it work and doing what they can, but there are at least as many people out there who are still licking their wounds and not used to the idea, who really miss working and don't know what to do with all this time to themselves, who can't make ends meet with their unemployment checks alone, who don't even get unemployment checks anymore, who have lost everything, and more. I would say, actually, that there are more unhappy unemployeds than happy ones. My guess is 75% of unemployeds are unhappy, and that's probably a conservative estimate.

So where does that leave us? Well, if the national unemployment rate is at 9.7% (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, July 2009) and the current American population is 304,059,724 (US Census Bureau, July 2008), let's do a little math:

9.7% of 304,059,724 is 29,493,794 (rounded up, because you can't have .228 of a person)
75% of 29,493,794 is 22,120,346 unhappy unemployeds

304,059,724 - 29,493,794 = 274,565,930 employeds
54% of 274,565,930 is 148,265,603 unhappy employeds

So there are 170,385,949 unhappy people in the US today? That's 56% overall!

Of course, this is highly estimated and varies on a day to day basis (and there are other factors screwing with it, like what about the chronically unhappy people who are technically one of the happy employed or unemployeds, and conversely what about the people who are just so bubbly and happy and adaptive even though they are unemployed - those people could of course mess with the math). Also, the fact that this is an emotional self-evaluation and report (someone saying "hey look, are you unhappy?" rather than standing back and observing you or giving you less direct questions that are facets of the unhappiness variable) does make it iffy. Which brings me to my worry for this country: What if there are more unhappy people, but they're not reporting that they are unhappy because they're so used to being unhappy? What if they don't see unhappiness and happiness as a dicotomy anymore becaus they have forgotten what it's like to be truly happy?

People, we deserve to be happy! Find something about yourself that makes you happy, something about your current situation that makes you happy, something fun to do that makes you happy, and run with it. That's all I'm going to say, because if I think about this anymore, it'll make me unhappy.


  1. You've hit the nail on the head Pam. I've been unemployed for 4 1/2 months and enjoyed my days off walking and biking while taking care of my ailing mother. Now I'm employed again after taking a job I got threw the Mass. unemployment website. It's in the same field (printing) that I've been working in for over 30 years, yet I had to take a 40% pay cut to get it. Needless to say, I'm not particularly ecstatic to be starting work Monday, but a job is a job and seeing how I have a mortgage to pay I,ll give it a shot.

  2. Best of luck to you on Monday, edbez23! Hopefully, there will be something you will really enjoy (even if it's just the simple fact of making some money or keeping your brain busy) about your new job. Have a great weekend!