Saturday, June 11, 2011

On The Verge of Invisibility

Very soon, my current temporary job will come to an end. Am I crushed? No. It's not a very good job, the commute is very long, and now that summer vacation has come for my children, the daycare expenses were eating me alive. I will be back on the job market again or, if I have my way, on the way to self-employment.

But there will be a step in the middle: invisibility.

Last time I heard, the official unemployment figure was nine-point-something percent. That's high, but it hardly tells the whole story, and I'm a good example of one kind of person who makes the numbers come out all screwy.

I was unemployed for 22 weeks until I found my current position. I was unemployed for one week in the middle of my current position (I forgot to mention that the job was also kind of unreliable as a source of steady income). That means I have three weeks left on my prior claim. I won't qualify for a claim on the current job for some time. So then my remaining three weeks of unemployment insurance are used up, I become invisible.

Because the unemployment statistic reported by the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, only measures the number of people collecting unemployment insurance as a percentage of the total number of people employed full-time. It also reports those working part-time who desire full-time employment (based on a sampling, of course; they don't ask everybody) as underemployed.

So, while I was working 37.5 hours a week making less than one-third of what I made fifteen years ago, I was not underemployed. Get it?

But when my insurance runs out, or if my business fails, since I cannot collect unemployment insurance, I won't be counted as underemployed or unemployed. I'll just be invisible.

I'm not upset that my benefits are running out, or that self-employment won't qualify me for benefits. After all, unemployment compensation is supposed to be an insurance policy, paid by my employer, which I do not pay into if I choose self-employment.

I just don't want my situation to be yet another way that the Government uses statistics to paint a rosy picture of a failing economy.