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It is dangerous to take United States employment data at face value.  Anecdotally the definition of "employment" is to be considered.  As unemployment figures are easily and regularly jiggered by US politicians it is helpful to  check for the more culturally meaningful statistic of "underemployment" wherin an individual is working for very low wages and generally for a low number of hours.  This is also defined as a skilled and/or educated worker employed out of their area of skill or level of education (Economics phd's managing McDonalds, for example).

This matter of underemployment expects to be greater in the US than it is in France due to the solid French social protection network and solidarity.  In the United States one must take any kind of paying-work the moment one's "unemployment insurance" finishes it's course.  US unemployment pays in the ballpark range of 40-60% of active net wages for a period of 6-9 months at most post-termination, and is only available to those who have been fired "without cause."

The figures for "unemployment" in the US are based on the percentage of people actually collecting these payments with zero effort to quantify the percentages of people who collect payment in full and leave the rolls, to US figures they are treated the same as one who has attained employment again.

In reality these people move from "unemployment" to "underemployment"  This is necessary for survival, food, housing, health care, all things not covered by United States society for the unemployed.  Naturally low-paying, minimum-wage and generally part-time jobs in the US (formerly "McJobs," now more apt to be Waljobs or Starbucks) do not provide any kind of measurable benefits such as health insurance.  

It is also a trap for the average worker.  Dismissed from gainful, health-insured, full-time employment an American worker signs up to collect unemployment insurance (which they have paid into) while searching for another full-time position.  If times are tough that position will not be found and unemployment insurance runs out.  At this time the worker must accept whatever sources of income are immediately available and then enters an "underemployment" scenario with hopes of delaying inevitable bankruptcy and starvation a bit longer while hoping for "things to turn around" and gainful employment to once again present itself.

The worker in this scenario slaves away at often difficult, tiring and depressing work for practically zero pay, generally racking up excessive debt at high interest rates in order to maintain a bare standard of living.  During this time the worker is not generally enrolled in job-training, school or even able to devote much time to the pursuit of better employment.

This treadmill is REALITY in the current US employment market and it is appaling that anyone would take seriously the prospect of unleashing it upon their own culture.  There are simply no upsides.

by paving on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 02:24:40 AM EST
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