Effects of Unemployment in the USA


In the Western world generally people have always been taught to work for a living, particularly men. When WWII came along, women entered the work force and many women chose to work rather than stay home with children. For a large percentage of families today it takes two incomes to make ends meet at this time.

In the era when I grew up I worked part-time in a department store when I was in high school as did many of my friends. My family did not have a lot of money. I remember my dad taking a second job at Christmas time so our family could enjoy Christmas. Almost all the boys worked part-time as well. Then, when we completed high school, we went to work or we went to college to train for a particular career. Welfare was for people too ill to work and we heard little about it during that time, even though it had been in place since the Great Depression. Unemployment figures were low, so it was not that difficult to find a job or career


Photobucket By Chi1MinhN
Photobucket By Chi1MinhN

How Unemployment Statistics are Determined

Now, with unemployment at such high levels, we are seeing some sad results. Currently the unemployment rate is 8.1 percent nationwide and much higher in many urban areas. Many people think that the unemployment rate is counted from those receiving unemployment benefits, but obviously those eventually run out if an individual stays unemployed. The government cannot count each unemployed person each month as that would require a house to house visit to get an accurate count. The government actually conducts a monthly survey, which is called the Current Population Survey, to measure the extent of the number of unemployed. This method has been used since 1940 with just a few modifications. They sample 60,000 households, (covering approximately 110,000 people), which is a large sample compared to opinion surveys that typically cover 2,000 people.

Unemployment Effects on Society

So many people cannot find jobs today and it is heartbreaking for many families. Many veterans that leave the military can not find employment even though they often have good work skills. According to the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), there is an increasing correlation between unemployment and alcoholism, suicide, homicide and violent crimes. In the “Lancet Journal” of England they are finding the same results. In an empirical analysis they found that just a 3 percent jump in unemployment was associated with a 28 percent rise in deaths from alcohol abuse, plus a 4.5 percent rise in suicide.

Unemployment Effects on Society of a Poor Economy

In a study completed by the University of Miami, they concluded that binge drinking increased with a decrease in macroeconomic conditions. Therefore, even people who were employed did more binge drinking and were more like to drive after having too much to drink during a bad economy and one with rising unemployment. In other findings, an increasing unemployment rate affected all race and age groups, with the largest binge drinking effect seen for African-Americans in the 18 to 24 age range. Oddly enough, they also found that binge drinking increased more in people with a higher educational level and income. Apparently we can conclude that everyone is affected in a poor economy in an adverse way.

Struggles - Rewards of My Life

It is possible to change the course of your life, even in difficult times, but not necessarily easy. I put myself through college with 3 sons and virtually no help from their father. Once I started working as an RN, I worked double shifts as necessary to raise my boys. They are all productive members of society today. I delivered newspapers in the mornings to make money while I was in nursing school.

We lived in a small apartment and it was hard. I did not ask the government for help and my extended family was not able to help me very much either. I had such an old beater of a car at one point and my youngest son made me drop him off a block from school so no one would see it.

I can laugh about those times now. I survived. They survived and learned to take care of themselves. I learned to save money and put money into a retirement account. I eventually remarried. When my wonderful husband of sixteen years had a stroke at age 59, we paid off our home because of our retirement savings. We do not have credit card debt. When you grow up hard, you learn to take care of yourself through those tough times.

Other Negative Effects Due to Unemployment

Beside the obvious fact that unemployment does not allow an individual enough money to live on, it also affects self esteem. Work is not only a way to make a living but it is also a social network for most people. Co-workers often become friends, so losing a job cuts off that network. This very act will push some people into isolation and they sometimes increase their alcohol intake. It creates feelings of inadequacy and it can certainly affect your relationship with loved ones. Looking for a new job daily without results can further push your self esteem down. This is true for both men and women

Working each day also provides a structure to the day and without this discipline there can be feeling of hopelessness or feelings of being a failure. It is easy to rationalize that there is no reason to get up early for work, so a person might as well stay up late at night, with a built-in excuse to drink. Drinking alcoholically is a downhill course.

Trapped in Unemployment

In Conclusion

Obviously, our country is in trouble with high unemployment and rising prices. Food prices are expected to rise due to the drought. Gasoline will most certainly rise with our dependence on the volatile Middle East. The interest on our ballooning deficit alone is enough to make you concerned about your grandchildren paying it off. We need jobs in this country, not more government jobs as that costs the taxpayer and does not increase the gross national product. We need mom and pop businesses and larger businesses to put people to work in this country. People need to be able to live their lives with dignity. Children should not be going to bed hungry at night.

There are many serious concerns affecting our country at this time. I wish the negative political games would stop. I would like to hear a newscast and not an editorial parading as the news. I want to hear about solutions for these serious problems.

© 2012 Pamela Oglesby

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Comments 61 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Powerful message my friend, and I am sharing this one. The effects of unemployment are devastating and will get worse. Yes, solutions....no more blaming....I want a plan that gets people back to work....oh, I remember....how about we fix the infrastructure in this country? We could start one month from today, fixing roads, bridges, building a new superhighway or mass transit nationwide.....it can be done....it must be done!

CMerritt profile image

CMerritt 4 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

Pamela, THIS maybe one of your most effect and well written hubs yet, and you have plenty of them.

I think you timing on this one is perfect and so very, very well said.


denisemai profile image

denisemai 4 years ago from Idaho

Well stated, Pamela. Your personal story is of a person who is willing to work hard to make ends meet and who comes from a family that valued hard work. So many people these days are looking for the government to do things for them. I'm sure it wasn't easy to work double shifts AND deliver papers but you did it for your kids and can be proud that you accomplished that on your own. Unemployment has got out of hand, for sure.

You're right about the news. Instead of being the fair, objective watchdog of our country, they have inserted themselves into the political landscape and are now unable to report things neutrally. I wonder what kind of ratings a program would get if they actually provided fair, balanced, objective news reports by following the original ethics in media guidelines from years ago?

Sharing and Tweeting.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Billy, That is exactly my point of this article. There is work that can and should be done. People will feel good about being employed again. As you know, I typically write about medical problems and other less important topics, but this one is from my heart. Thanks so much for your encouragement and comments.

Chris, Your comments mean a great deal to me and thank you so much for them.

summerberrie 4 years ago

Your struggle sound much like my parents. People lived differently then. Credit cards and not "owning" what you have has put people in a different

kind of struggle. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Nice job with standing up and being an advocate for the unemployed!

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

summerberrie, People did live differently when I was young, but I felt it was a good time to share my experience of survival after being on Hubpages for 3 years. I am very concerned about the unemployed and their survival. Thank you so much for your comments.

Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 4 years ago from Texas

Nicely done, Pamela....bordering on a rant with the passions expressed at the end of this piece. The vast majority of the American people want to hang on to the country they know. They want their elected officials to be honest and do their best for the country as opposed to what we see today with special interest and under the table deals which seem to always leave the taxpayer and the citizen holding the empty bag. Obama sees that as his opportunity to transform the country and people mistake that as his desire to change it to what they want....talk about poor communications and a potential disaster of an outcome...we've got it going on right in front of our eyes. We have to get back to teaching our culture, our history, and our values to our younger generations...retake our educational system and transform it to what it should be rather than a psycho-socialogical mechanism. Today, in our education system, there is more value placed on social issues and political correctness than on history, science and math. The results are ugly but the seeds which undermine our society are sewn and many of them are sprouting into something that no longer is American. Rated Up+! ~WB

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Wayne, I fully agree that our educational system needs a vast overhaul. Comparing American students to other countries in the world make that quite clear, not to mention the results we see in America. Thank you so much for your comments. Much appreciated.

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Thank you for sharing on this issue so prevalent in our country today. We seem to be heading downhill without applying brakes. I agree with all your views on getting back to building our job options so that the US will not crumble to its ruin. Voted up!

novascotiamiss profile image

novascotiamiss 4 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

Pamela: An awesomely honest article that shows that people should get up and do something about their misery, rather than expecting the government to change it. I've done a fewshort-term jobs that were well below my level of education & experience myself and I've learnt to respect all the little people out there who slave away every day for us. We shouldn't look down on them. Also, an important point you mentioned is that you don't have any credit card debt. I personally believe that the middle class is diminishing as people overspend, until they end up being poor. Also, I feel that the big corporations should get fined for sending jobs abroad and there should be tax incentives for keeping jobs at home. Jobs are the backbone of every economy and that doesn't only apply to the US. Pamela, maybe you should go into politics....

Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

Well said, Pamela.

Unemployment is also putting other citizens at risk 'cause there are individuals who are taking an alternate route of breaking in homes and thefts are on the increase.

People who have jobs, feel insecure to leave their belongings at home 'cause of the rise in burglaries.

Alas, a chain reaction is affecting all.

Good points. votedup and shared!

Rolly A Chabot profile image

Rolly A Chabot 4 years ago from Alberta Canada

Morning Pam... very interesting article and one that I will be sharing. We hear about the effects of unemployment and social results here in Canada from the US. Our prayers are with all who suffer.

Canada has faire the recession a little better but we suffer much the same. Our natural resources are what sustains us here in Alberta. There is work and people are still spending carefully.

Hugs for this...

aethelthryth profile image

aethelthryth 4 years ago from American Southwest

It drives me crazy that unemployment statistics do not account for situations like my family's, where my husband owns a mom-and-pop business that hasn't brought in more than hobby-level income for three years. Our family is not going hungry at the moment because I have part-time income from an Australian employer.

So what we would like is one working adult (my husband), and me raising our children full-time. Instead, statistics probably show us as two working adults, including one business owner, but for this we have about 3/4 of a blue-collar income.

But the good part of this is, I think it is as you said, a benefit to our children to grow up in hard times.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Dianna, I obviously agree with you. Thank you so much for your comments.

Craig Hartranft profile image

Craig Hartranft 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

Now unemployed for nearly three and half years, I find this to be a very interesting article. I'm sure you've only explored the tip of the iceberg. For instance, the unemployment rate declared by the government mostly useless as it does not consider those underemployed or those who have stopped looking. The rate is much higher.

William Barrett wrote: "Hunger is not the worst feature of unemployment; idleness is."

And Edward Langley wryly adds, "What this country needs are more unemployed politicians."

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

novascotiamiss, First, I feel the same way you do about respecting people doing any type of work. I also think the middle class has overspent and is feeling the result of burdening debt quite often. I think corporations should keep jobs in the US also and I think there may need to be fees on imported goods, which would be like fines I guess, and incentives for keeping jobs at home. I would like to buy American made products! Go into politics? Never! Thanks so much for your comments.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Ruchira, You are right that crime is on the rise due to unemployment. I know people that have gotten alarms and large dogs because they are concerned about leaving their homes during the day. This is another sad result of unemployment. I appreciate your comments.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Rolly, Thankfully there is work in Alberta and spending carefully is certainly the prudent course of action these days. I am glad things are better there. I appreciate your comments. Hugs from FL.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

aethelthrth, You situation is another sad result of the mess this country is in at this time. It is certainly unfair. I know you want to keep the business and hope for more prosperous times and I hope that is what happens for you. If the economy improved along with unemployment, obviously your business would improve. We do set an example for our children, but obviously this is not your first choice of how you would like to raise your children. Thank your for sharing your situation and your comments.

Curiad profile image

Curiad 4 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

This is well written and so sadly true Pamela, Society is filled with people like myself who want to work but can not even get hired at Burger King and then the many that just want a handout for the next 30 years. It has to change and you and I are the only ones that can accomplish that.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Craig, I know you are right about the unemployment number not truly reflecting the seriousness of this problem. I know many are underemployed and college students often can't find jobs. I love both your quotes and agree wholeheartedly. Thank you for your comments.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Curiad, I am sorry you are having that experience. You are right, we need change badly. It is not right that you can't even get a job that is well below your skills. Thank you for your comments and I hope things improve for your very soon.

The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 4 years ago from Arlington, TX

We now have 23 million Americans unemployed and underemployed. This administration has manipulated every number they could possibly manipulate but the fact is what I just wrote.

The government doesn't create jobs and anyone who thinks it does is ignorant of both business and economics. The federal government creates then prolongs misery. Time for some real change.

The Frog

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Frog, I agree that is time for real change. The government could make it easier for companies to stay in business rather than making it more difficult. Thanks for your comments.

Conservative Lady profile image

Conservative Lady 4 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

It is disheartening but we are a strong force as Americans - keep writing and getting the message out that we need our Government to do better at leaving business alone and we need the media to be honest not bias. Good job Pam

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Pam,

This is an insightful, informative and thought-provoking essay.

I greatly admire and appreciate hearing about your experiences. You are a role model of independence and survival through some difficult circumstances.

Funny, in addition to us both being nurses, my first job was in retail , FW Woolworth.

Voted UP and UABI. Meaningful read. Hugs, Maria

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Conservative Lady, It sure is disheartening. Thank you so much for your comments.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Maria, We do have quite a lot in common. I worked at May Company, which is no long in existence in the notions department. That is also something you no longer hear about. I very much appreciate your comments about the hub. Thank you so much. Hugs, Pam

always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

It seems strange to me that the right wing will envariably blame President Obama when he took over at a time when we were at our lowest ebb since the great depression. Instead of blaming why not join together to make this country great again. It can be done if the right wing in the Congress will put America first. The first words out of the mouth of the republican congress was ." I will spend the next four years making sure Obama will not win in four years." How very sad is that?

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago

I agree unemployment has negative implications and you've covered that well. Thanks for sharing your personal experience--I'm so appreciative of that since I grew up poor too. You've come a long way and you've done fabulously--well done.

rcrumple profile image

rcrumple 4 years ago from Kentucky

Pam -

I left a job for medical reasons the last day of January. Figured I'd take a month or two, get myself straight, and get back in the job mainstream. Today, I'm still applying. It's a ridiculous situation at this time. I'm with you, let's hear some solutions. Sad thing is, I think they're discussing the problems because not of them have the answers. All we can do is to pray at this time. Great Hub!

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Ruby, I think there is enough blame to go around to both parties. Something must be done about the joblessness and the deficit. I wish the parties would work together to fix the problems as the country. Thanks for your comments.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

anginwu, I guess we both understand that you can change your life despite your circumstances. I appreciate your comments.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

rcumple, I pray for our country and I am waiting for those solutions also. Thank you so much for your comments.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

It seems we're all waiting for this country to turn around. You've made so many good points in this hub. Its time....time for the politicians to stop self-serving and start worrying about the people in this country. Unemployment has gone on too long with no reasonable end in sight. It is people like you, and articles like this that will help to get us heard!!

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

janiek13 profile image

janiek13 4 years ago from Florida's Space Coast

Great research. I am one of the unemployed, and while I have avoided the pitfalls of drinking to excess, I can understand how that can happen.

tsadjatko profile image

tsadjatko 4 years ago from maybe (the guy or girl) next door

"Instead of blaming why not join together to make this country great again."~ always exploring

Seems to me that is misplaced advice that should be directed at the president who after almost 4 years still refuses to take credit for the mess we are in and blames Bush and/or Republicans at every turn despite that he was a member of a democrat controlled congress for two years before getting elected and had total control of congress for the first two years of his term..the republicans could do nothing to stop him from doing whatever he wanted and he squandered that power on things the public were totally against according to the polls.. ...talk about dividing America, no other president has tried harder to do that than this one and that is just an undeniable fact! The man is destroying America, see the movie 2016, so why wouldn't anyone say we have to stop him from having another term. They would not be patriots to say anything different.

Great hub with valuable insights Pamela99!

WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 4 years ago from Templeton, CA

Pam, I also pray for our country. A friend at church who owns three appliance stores just had to close one of them, meaning he probably had to let some people go. We have two tenants going through though times who aren't catching up on their rent. One is five months behind. One is our neighbor and the other is in the midst of an elder care crisis with her mom. I'm not sure if she had to close her shop or not. That, of course, is a big hit in our income. It seems the government answer is to either extend unemployment benefits while they are raising the minimum wage -- something that often means employers don't hire entry level workers or or they have to let some of their workers go. It's obvious most Congressmen and legislatures have never had to meet a payroll. I pray for wisdom for those who are supposed to represent and govern the people.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

tillsonitan, I would like to think my article would help us be heard. It is time to see this country turn around. I appreciate your comments.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Janiek, I can understand the depression that many people must be feeling also. I hope you will find a job in the not so distant future. I wish you the best and appreciate your comments.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

tsadjatko, I think you summed up Obama's performance very well. He did have 2 years with a Democratic Congress but seemed to just spend more money on failing companies like Solyndra and the debt keeps rising. Thank you so much for your comments.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Wanna B. Writer, I pray for wisdom for those in office also. We do not have a president that has any experience in running a business and it shows. There are so many sad stories. It is heartbreaking. I don't ever remember a time like this before in my lifetime. I pray the election goes to Romeny and I also pray he will make the right decisions for this country. Thank you for sharing your experience and your comments.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

tillsonitan, I would like to think my article would help us be heard. It is time to see this country turn around. I appreciate your comments.

Janiek, I can certainly understand the depression that causes people to want to drink. I'm glad you are not following that path and hope you will find good employment soon. Thanks for your comments.

tsadjatko, I do not believe this president ever had the qualificications to run this country. He didn't grow up here and he has no business experience. Unfortunately, our debt is staggering and the two years when he had a Democratically controlled congress accomplished nothing but Obamacare, which is wrought with problems. I hope this election changes the direction for our country. I appreciate your comments.

Wanna B. writer, There are so many heartbreaking stories. We need major changes in this country if we are going to survive. I do not ever remember an election that is as important as this one. I pray for change, jobs to be created, and so forth. I appreciate your comments.

psychicdog.net profile image

psychicdog.net 4 years ago

Wonderful hub - you delineated the benefits of work so well and what happens when there is no work - the heartbreak, drop in self-esteem and the drinking problem. Giving business a boost makes the most sense to create more jobs. Thanks Pamela

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Pam...Kudos to you!! You have told it like it IS! and YES, I would so very much, like you....be grateful and interested to hear something productive and rational about our country and our future.....not the usual nonsense and rhetoric and bullying back and forth that creates or solves NOTHING!!! Terrific hub, Pam. Time is drawing near.....UP++

drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

This is an excellent summation, Pamela, of many of our problems. America is still the greatest country in the world but our challenges are daunting, and the current leadership has been found wanting. We must make a change in November.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

psychicdog, It certainly makes the most sense to me. Thank you for your comments.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Paula, Time is drawing near. I agree that nothing positive is being created with all this rhetoric. I appreciate your comments.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

drbj, The challenges are daunting and we certainly need a change in Nov. Thanks so much for your comments.

breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 4 years ago

This is a very powerful and important piece of writing. I'd tell you to send it to Congress but they left town! up and awesome, Pamela, really awesome.

MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa

Unemployment is also a very sad reality in South Africa and the major reason of our high crime rate. I believe by overpopulating the earth, we people built the foundation for unemployment and other disasters. We are not all guilty, or are we? Excellent hub about survival! Voted up to the stars -

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Patti, Thanks so much for your comments. Even if Congress hadn't left town again, I imagine that would be a waste of time, but I appreciate the thought.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Martie, I think unemployment is a problem in many countries from what I see on the news, except in places like China and some of Asia. Thank you so much for your comments.

suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM

Great article and great look at unemployment. I, like you, had to put myself through college. I started working a partime job my senior year in high school and all through college. At that time the cost of college was not as astronomical as it is today and I was able to pay for it with my partime job. I wouldn't be able to do that today, though. I agree with your conclusions. When is someone - a leader, the news going to seriously look for solutions to our problems in this country? Voted up and shared.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

suzettenaples, I think many of us did what it took to seek our education and to support ourselves. Thank you for dropping by and reading my hub and leaving such thoughtful comments. Have a wonderful day.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

Pamela-you've said a mouthful here. I am in agreement with it, as well. It is heartbreaking. The increase in homelessness is astounding, and the part that gets me is the number of families and children of all ages, who are homeless. My heart breaks each time I hear about it. And, what to do?

Well written. I noticed also the hub was lack of color, including the photo. That is a plus in the presentation for this particular article. Thanks. Rated up/sharing.

BTW-I could relate to your personal story about nursing school. Mine was: one divorce, no child support, and 2 kids through nursing school. Fortunately, my late husband had entered my life at that time and took over childcare on those late study nights.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Denise, It seems we have had some fairly similar experiences in life, yet here we are having survived the tough times. Thank you so much for your comments on my hub.

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida

Good morning Pamela...

You are so right. Unemployment does have all of the residual side effects you have cited here and done so concisely and well. It is such a complex issue...the resolution to it is out there somewhere. My family and I were homeless and it is a scary lonely place to be. You feel desperate and wonder how to get out of it.

Each time I see a homeless person my heart breaks for them. I am especially disturbed by our precious veterans who have no work. It hurts me to the core as my family is so deeply immersed in service to our country.

Thank you Pamela for sharing this. We need to try to work together to help find some solutions, somehow.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

pstraubie, I have great concern for the veterans also. I am sorry that you experiences homelessness. I can't imagine how scary that must be and I have great compassion for all those people who are suffering in this economy. We sure need more jobs in this country. Thank you so much for your comments and I wish you a brighter future.

James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago

Unemployment is a serious problem and your Hub superbly highlighted the negative effects on people who want to work but can't find employment. Thanks for a good read. I surely agree with your assessment of this issue. Well done!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

James, It is so nice to hear from you and I appreciate your comments very much. Thank you.

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