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This is a fascinating story about how the unemployment epidemic is affecting mental health. I think that there should be a dialogue about how this country is treating the long term unemployed. I personally know many people that have lost their jobs in the last few years. The ones who are over 50 have had exceedingly hard times getting new employment. Yet what we hear in the media is about how the unemployed really do not want to work. I am not sure where the idea came from that unemployed people can live on unemployment checks. Where I live in CA the top level of unemployment benefit is about $1,800 a month. That might pay for the rent or mortgage but it won’t cover much else. Most unemployed people have also lost their health coverage also and cobra generally costs about $800 a month here. So people have to make choices between keeping their homes and keeping their health care. Not a choice that I believe people should have to make.
It is easy for people to look at the unemployed and say that they should just get a job at McDonalds or say that they should have saved more. It makes it easier to believe that it won’t happen to us if we can find a way to blame the unemployed person for their predicament. As we can see in this article many unemployed people have tried to get those McDonalds jobs and they can’t get them either since they are overqualified. There will always be a certain number of people that try and game any system. However, with the 10% unemployment rate there are also many others that lost jobs through no fault of their own and now can’t get hired because they are over 50, or they have been out of work so long they are now considered unemployable.
Perhaps we should re-frame the unemployment problem so that we support people in their struggles instead of blaming them.