Updated on 6/10/ 2021: This post was originally written on 2/3/2011 when unemployment was high during the recession. However, unemployment has skyrocketed during the 2021 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.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WERE UNEMPLOYED?
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.
MAYBE THINGS ARE JUST DANDY
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. If you’re over 40, so sorry. If you’ve had the luxury of working for 20+ years before becoming unemployed, you 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!
Readers, do you think the unemployment situation is 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!