Long-term Unemployment

Annie Lowery of the New York Times describes what long-term unemployment looks like for Jennifer Barrington-Ward, who has a college degree and thirty years of continuous work experience.

After she lost her job, Ms. Barrington-Ward lived off her 99 weeks of unemployment benefits. Two years ago, she had to give up the house she shared with friends outside Boston. She cannot get Medicaid because she does not have a fixed address. She has no car to get around. She does freelance “intuitive” readings, similar to psychic readings, and web production work. A jobless friend committed suicide.

Barrington-Ward is homeless despite deep cuts in economic assistance, which are supposed to be so painful for poor people the experience kicks them in the ass and gives them the motivation they need to become rich. And yet, long-term unemployment has risen 213 percent – which does not count those people who have been moved onto shadow welfare programs.

Perhaps there’s not as much to the indolence theory of poverty as we’ve been led to believe.

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