Young, single and funemployed

Some twentysomethings aren’t sweating the recession, reports The Phoenix from a Boston club. Those with no children and no mortgage — and with supportive parents — see unemployment as a long vacation.

Nestled in a corner banquette are Senam, 25, and his friend Khushbu, 24. Senam’s dressed in cashmere and khakis, not a pore in sight. Khushbu’s all in black, fondling a BlackBerry. He’s in architecture, she’s a lawyer. Both sip white wine and seem happy to confide in a fleece-clad interloper.

“I was laid off last week,” says Senam, stretching like a happy feline. He grins and drinks. “Looks like it’s time for a vacation to Puerto Rico!” He smiles even more broadly now, revealing a perfect set of exceptionally white teeth. Khushbu giggles, smoothes her long black hair. “I lost my job a month ago,” she says calmly. “Here’s to the economy!” They clink glasses.

. . . Cara, a 25 year old with a background in international relations and journalism — who is also currently unemployed — is equally unfazed. “The economy better pick up soon!” she says, laughing. “But if it doesn’t, well, I’ll just have to try [looking for work] longer.” She shrugs and goes back to her drink. “I think the economy is just making people spend smarter,” adds Beth, who works in the restaurant industry. “Maybe I won’t go out to eat at a mediocre restaurant or spend a lot of money just going out for a beer. If I spend money, I want it to be amazing.”

In New York City’s Williamsburg neighborhood, parents are telling their heavily subsidized children that the money is running out, reports the New York Times.

Luis Illades, an owner of the Urban Rustic Market and Cafe on North 12th Street, said he had seen a steady number of applicants, in their late 20s, who had never held paid jobs: They were interns at a modeling agency, for example, or worked at a college radio station. In some cases, applicants have stormed out of the market after hearing the job requirements.

“They say, ‘You want me to work eight hours?’ ” Mr. Illades said. “There is a bubble bursting.”

Famed for its concentration of heavily subsidized 20-something residents — also nicknamed trust-funders or trustafarians — Williamsburg is showing signs of trouble. Parents whose money helped fuel one of the city’s most radical gentrifications in recent years have stopped buying their children new luxury condos, subsidizing rents and providing cash to spend at Bedford Avenue’s boutiques and coffee houses.

Then there’s the LA Times story on the “funemployed.”

About Joanne


  1. SuperSub says:

    I see the same attitude with my students… there’s no need to worry about things because there is always someone who will bail you out, whether it’s your parents or the government.

    The one maddening thing about this is that these individuals continually say that there isn’t anything they can do, when the opposite is true. They do have control over their own fortunes, and aimlessly meadering while things straighten themselves out is a sure recipe for disaster.

    I do believe things will work out…but because I do my part to make that happen. Those who make the change happen will be part of the society when it turns, but those who ‘stepped out’ on it will find themselves lost.

  2. It’s funny. My parents taught me about the satisfaction of hard work. I think I’d feel sad and unfulfilled if I was a “trustafarian” or someone who was being bailed out. There is a certain pleasure in simply being able to go to the grocery store and knowing that the food you are buying, you earned the money for yourself – that you are not dependent on anyone else.

    I wonder if that’s just another divide in this increasingly-divided nation: between the people who’d rather work their way out of a problem, and the people who’d rather be bailed out of it.

    And what happens when Mommy or Daddy get laid off?

  3. I hope the Phoenix does follow up piece on Senam and Khushbu about 6 months from now when, still unemployed when the money runs run out and the rent and car payment are due.

  4. I hope the Phoenix does follow up piece on Senam and Khushbu about 6 months from now when, still unemployed when the money runs run out and the rent and car payment are due.
    P.S. – Sorry, forgot to tell you great post!

  5. I don’t really care if a small subset of adults manage to live life to the fullest at their parents’ expense. I just fear our society is skewed towards rewarding those kind of people because they have the right degrees from the right colleges, wear the right clothes, say the right things, and live in the right places.

  6. greifer says:

    —- I think I’d feel sad and unfulfilled if I was a “trustafarian” or someone who was being bailed out.

    yes i think those feelings are probably what many young adults feel, but they don;t even know it. to recognize that one’s unfulfillment or ennui isn;t just the natural default state of life, or that it’s entirely solveable may never occur if you’ve done no work or achieved nothing you own as yours.

  7. I just…don’t get this attitude. To be honest, I know that my parents would be quite willing to help me out if I were ever laid off. In fact, they pretty much want me to quit my job and move back home. But there’s this little thing called pride and independence. Okay, two things. 😛

  8. Being out of work isn’t so much fun when you’re married, have a mortgage and little mouths to feed. I was out of work for a month at the beginning of the year. I don’t recall the atmosphere being so cheerful at the DOE. I was extremely fortunate to get hired back in my old job in a couple of weeks but almost all of the people I worked with who got whacked haven’t. But lets not focus on those who are suffering – let’s go find 3 trust fund victims and listen to their devil may care attitudes about unemployment because everything’s wonderful now.

  9. I had a bit of this when I got laid-off a couple of years ago. I went off to Vietnam, where my husband was working and travelled for a bit. Then I got bored.
    Luckily hustling for work was a lot easier then than it is now.