Whether you’re headed to a wedding (even your own) or just a barbecue, you may interact with someone who is unemployed. Do you offer a hug? Should you feign laryngitis and walk away? It can be stressful for the employed, or otherwise economically stable, to know how to respond.
Trust me. Since I was laid off, family, former colleagues, and especially, strangers, (albeit indirectly and always unsolicited) let me know how challenging my joblessness is for them. These rules of thumb will help you handle the unbearable lightness of being around the non-working class.
JUDGE: If someone admits to being laid off, fired, let go, or otherwise not working, let her know that her current situation is directly related to her defective character. Use strong simplistic (not to be confused with simple!) terms. Cloak statements in the form of questions like, “What did you do wrong?” or “Who can blame them (insert: corporation here)?” If the unemployed person seems defensive, remind her that you have a job for a reason.
“For about 43 percent of Americans over the age of 18 [that is: the ones without college degrees], there has been no growth in the labor market since it bottomed out more than two years ago. To get a job, you’ve essentially had to hope someone else lost or left theirs.” —The Atlantic’s Jordan Weissmann translates some charts! Basically: Um, sucks if you didn’t go to college! The other part of the analysis is that if you have a college degree, you cannot and should not complain about the job market because essentially it’s back to pre-recession levels so go get a job! Go, go, go!