Is Unemployment Really That High?

Is Unemployment Really That High, was originally written on 2/3/2011 when unemployment was high during the recession. However, unemployment has skyrocketed during the 2020 global pandemic.

The nearby Kentucky Fried Chicken has a help wanted sign up for the past 6 weeks.  I asked the manager how the hunt was going when I picked up my bucket of goodness and he said nobody was applying.

They pay $10 an hour for up to 8 hour shifts a day.  That's $400 a week and $1,600 a month.  Not bad right?  I think so, even for a city like San Francisco.  For $1,600 a month, you can rent a room with a couple housemates for $700 a month, and have $900 a month left over for food and entertainment.  Not bad if you're single.

If you've got a family to support, $1,600 in San Francisco is not going to get you very far, which is why many move out of San Francisco to one of the burbs and commute.

KFC's inability to hire got me wondering: Is unemployment really 10%?  Everyday, you see the media drone on and on about how bad the employment market is.  I truly empathize with anybody out of work who wants to work.  However, if KFC can't find a position for 6 weeks, perhaps the employment picture is actually much better than perception.

The city of San Francisco is hopping.  There is more money out there than you think.  I couldn't get a cab for 50 minutes the other day from downtown to the gym.  I gave up and ended up jogging 3 miles in the rain in my work clothes and 20 pound bag.  Shit, that sucked.  I asked my well-to-do friend who is approaching his 80th week of collecting unemployment insurance how much he gets and how he's doing.  He said roughly $450 a week, which he spends on going out at night.  He's having a great time.


Unemployment claims - Is Unemployment Really That High?

I actually think about it once every couple of weeks thanks to the media and my own paranoia.  The truth of the matter is, I'd probably collect the maximum amount of unemployment possible in order to find the ideal job.  I would hold out until the very end.  It's the rational thing to do.  However, when the unemployment benefits run out, I will be the first person to apply for the KFC job and then blog about it!

If for some miracle I had no savings after 10, 15, 20, 25 years of working, I would be the best damn deep fryer on the planet! I used to work for $3 an hour at McDonald's and know what it takes to be a star in the fast food industry.  I'd work hard for my $1,600 a month and I would spend less than $100 a month on food because I'll be stuffing my face with all the fried chicken, mash potatoes, biscuits, corn, and coleslaw I can!  I'd also take home all the leftovers which are thrown out at the end of the day anyway and feed others.

In fact, I would work hard to try and get promoted to manager and potentially double my income to $20/hour or $3,200 a month.  I'd still look for that ideal job, but I would also be making the best of my time at KFC.


Is unemployment really that high? It's hard to believe it. Seriously, for all the negativity regarding unemployment, maybe we have very little to worry about.  If you are under 40, you can go back and live at home with your parents or relatives.  You've had the luxury of working for 20+ years before becoming unemployed. Therefore, likely have a huge safety net to last you a while. 

Think about it. Saving just $10,000 a year for 20 years, 20 years ago and investing the proceeds probably leaves you with at least $300,000 in savings.

Finally, if you have absolutely nothing, you at least have a 13-month extension of the 99 weeks of unemployment which pay some $1,700 a month in many cities. Once the 99 weeks runs out, there's KFC for $1,600 a month and free food.  Couldn't you live off $1,600 a month with free food?  I know I can.

Note: Just the other day, I was sitting on the ski-lift chatting with a guy.  I asked him whether he is taking the week off since it's a Wednesday, and he said, “Nope!  Got laid off in December and am taking the winter off with a great severance package, healthcare, and unemployment checks until I plan to start looking again in April.  I've already got two job offers but I want to ski!”  Now that is the way to live!

What Do You Think About The Unemployment Situation?

Readers, is unemployment really that high? Or is it actually much better than the 10% unemployment rate would dictate?  Why do you think it's taken 6 weeks and counting for the KFC to find someone to work for them for $1,600/month?

If you're 45 years old and have been working for 23 years, isn't 23 years of savings enough to hold you through several years vs. a younger person, say 27 who has only had 5 years to save?


I think the best think you can do if you are unemployed is to build a blog and start your side hustle! Post pandemic, you need to learn how to make money from home in case there's another one. The easiest way to make money from home is with a blog!

Update 2021: Thankfully, the unemployment rate has come down to about 6% as of 2Q2021. Here are the states with the highest unemployment benefits. Personally, I plan to re-retire within 12 months because I'm tired as hell! Here's to President Biden saving us from a lifetime of too much work!



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96 thoughts on “Is Unemployment Really That High?”

  1. Found this through your post on Untemplater. I’d love a job that paid $10/hr. I love any job that wasn’t yet another 2 or 3 month temp position. Stores seem to rather have an opening for months than hire an ex-con.

  2. I think a lot of people don’t think about the changing demographics, especially California, New York, and others. Taxes are too high, and people are moving to other states. Arizona, Texas, and so forth. I don’t know if all the companies moving are going to have the same employees — maybe a few as a guess. The rest are out in the cold.

    Moral of the story: Don’t tax so much and don’t regulate so much. Maybe business will move up a few notches where before they were leaving.

  3. I see that you are so positive. To answer your question
    on if it’s much better than the 10% unemployment
    rate would dictate? I guess it depends
    on the people you hang around. Some feel there is no hope
    and some take advantage of other opportunities. I’m
    an optimist and thinks everything happens for a reason

    Yes there’s unemployment. But the majority of us are working
    The ones that have given up is such a small percentage.

  4. Dude what are u like Sara Palin and u can see Alaska from your front porch? You must be related to Marie Antoinette ‘if the people have no bread then let them eat cake!’. You obviously live in a well to do SF area where min wage jobs are available given the high net worth socioeconomic group that populates the area. People in your area are not looking for low wage jobs; those jobs have to be filled by those who have to travel into your area from poorer places; even then it’s not worth their efforts because after taxes a large percentage of the income is used for commuting to the job.
    Have u been to Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan recently? I have for biz and let me assure you there is some serious unemployment there particularly in the large inner cities. You won’t see $10 hr KFC jobs offered like leaves on a tree because they are taken. You won’t see many jobs available because there is no labor shortage.

    Your anecdotal evidence is a bit moronic. Using your logic, if I don’t see any homeless people in my neighborhood then they can’t possibly exist, right?

    Wake up princess there is famine, sickness and poverty in your kingdom even if you are sheltered from it inside your crystal palace.

  5. Invest It Wisely

    I do think it’s easier for those who have had some time to sock away capital — if they’ve been prudent and have been saving, of course. For a younger person who might be still in debt, they don’t have as many options. Nonetheless if someone is getting 99 weeks of unemployment why on earth would they give that up in order to get paid less working the deep fryer? It’s rational to just collect the check until one finds something good.

  6. If I were truly unemployed, I’d lose my mind if I wasn’t doing something productive! I lost my corporate job two years ago, but I’ve never collected a penny in unemployment benefits. Instead, I started drumming up freelance clients. It wasn’t the easiest path I could have taken, but I can hold my head up, knowing I didn’t sponge off taxpayers.

    Seriously, though, if I had opted for unemployment benefits instead of forging my own path, I would have disintegrated into an alcoholic pile of goo within 3 months.

    I realize that not everyone has the motivation to create their own success, though. Ability, yes, but not motivation.

  7. I’d like to point out that your numbers are wrong. At 10 dollars an hour you actually get $1120 after tax, and those jobs don’t even cover health insurance. That might help clarify why no one seems to be biting the “generous” offer. Not only that but if you actually make the $1600 max in unemployment, you were making significantly more than that before you were unemployed. In most cases even if you applied for the job you’d be washed out as overqualified.

    1. You are saying the government takes $420 out of $1,600 in taxes for an effective tax rate of 26% if you are making $19,200 a year?

      I’d love to bet any amount of money that you are wrong and not even close. Please take me up on this bet, please? Pretty please? Cheers

      1. Considering I am looking at my pay old paystubs as I say this, I’ll happily take you up on that. Why are you surprised? It’s a well known fact that between social security taxes, medicare, etc, wages in america are taxed at almost 30%. That’s what makes the investment taxation rate so unfair. You might get some of it back come tax return time, but $1120 is what you’d actually be getting month to month to pay your bills.

  8. Man Sam, it’s good to read some optimism out there. A part of where I disagree is your assumption/insistence that people are logical.

    Is it really so unbelievable to you that someone might have no savings after working for 20 years? Do you not know anyone who knows they should be doing something (saving retirement, eating less and exercising more, etc) but, despite best intentions, never seem to get their feet under them? People act out of short-term interests over long-term ones all the time. I doubt many people without savings at 45 or 55 have anything planned for retirement – they’re likely just in a massive state of denial.

    I’m certainly not defending them or saying it’s normal to have nothing saved. I’m just saying that your assumption that people are logical and always make decisions with conscious reflection on short- and long-term consequences seems a bit rosy.

    1. Miss T, yes I believe people are highly rational. Nobody sticks a needle in their eye bc it’s painful, just lime nobody doesn’t save for retirement if they don’t need the money.

      Since we are logical, it is therefore logical to conclude that the economy is much much better than people give credit for. My thesis has panned out since my first bullish posts in June, 2010 and many of us have profited handsomely from it.

      I’m sure you are doing great too, right?

      1. “Miss T”? I like your abrasive style but I don’t know where you’re going with that. I do agree with you that the economy is better than people give it credit for; I just am not quite as bullish about just how well.

        But anyway, touché. I am doing reasonably well for being 24. Certainly better than my boss who doesn’t think he’ll ever be able to retire because of various financial miscues. I have anecdotes on both the positive (my out-of-rehab aunt getting a decently paying job and that allowing her to get her life back on track, my sister who just bought a $2M house with not much, if any, money down) and the negative (the aforementioned boss, my roommate’s lack of work that makes him worry about rent and paying his parents back).

        All in all I think people are doing better than advertised, but that doesn’t mean everyone is doing well.

        1. Matt,

          I think he made a typing error and didn’t mean to call you “Miss T.”

          Back to the program, I think the economy will likely worsen versus getting better but we shall see in 11 short months.

  9. Jennifer@ConsolidateDebt

    The real unemployment numbers are much more dismal than the absolutey fraudulent figures you are hearing , Part time , seasonal temp work , people that have simply given up looking for work and have entered the welfare system are all factors that aren’t even being considered in these equations , The US economy is on the skids and everyone knows it. American Industry , once the envy of the world , is now boarded up factories and tumble weeds , No amount of feel good articles penned by Journalists on the Wall Street payroll are going to fool the American people! The reality is that there has been no recovery whatsoever!

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