No Vacation For You!

by Valerie Menowsky

It’s Independence Day 2010 — and many of us aren’t feeling quite as independent as we did a few years ago. At least a million people will lose their unemployment benefits this week as their eligibility expires and the Senate failed to pass an unemployment benefits extension.

The pressures of meeting a mortgage, feeding a family, paying taxes and staying afloat are obvious. Valerie Menowsky says some of the other impacts and frustrations of being less than fully employed are less visible.

To those co-workers loudly proclaiming how many days they have left till they fly the friendly skies to alluring places far away…To those friends complaining about trying to find time to pack for their Caribbean cruise…To those neighbors who are “getting psyched” for their trip to Hawaii by wearing colored plastic leis to the grocery store…ENOUGH ALREADY!  You ‘vacationers’, you ‘cruisers’, you “I have to go shopping for clothes to pack” people are particularly annoying right now.

Especially to us, the underemployed, or people who don’t get any paid vacation because we’re part of a pool of workers defined as “involuntary part time workers.” (Statistics)  We’re either professional people working in survival jobs at a greatly reduced salary outside our expertise, working two or more jobs to make ends meet or would like to work a 40 hour week but can only find part-time jobs.  According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 9 million people are employed part time for economic reasons because their hours were cut or they were unable to find a full time job. (Statistics) And to add insult to injury, Gallop reports that because we spend 36% less than employed workers or $48 per day instead of $75 we are negatively impacting economic recovery. (Marlar)

We’d be glad to pump money into the economy by purchasing airline tickets and new clothes for a vacation but most part time jobs don’t offer sick pay, health or vacation benefits so if we do take a few days off, we lose money which isn’t really the rest and relaxation we deserve.

So as millions of us suffer vacation envy as we watch you return all tanned and refreshed, please be grateful for what you have, take pity and don’t show us your pictures.  And we’ll greet your return as sincerely as we can with “I hope you had a nice time.”

Valerie Menowsky is an underemployed returning college student at the University of New Orleans.

Sources:  Gallup, Economic News Release/Employment Situation Summary (Statistics, Bureau of Labor).

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