How Nonemployed Americans Really Spend Their Weekdays

This jokey flowchart reveals more about the jobless lifestyle than the New York Times’ recent data-driven analysis.

Unemployment—the monkey’s-paw, be-careful-what-you-wish-for punishment for all those long days at work you spent yearning for freedom. Now here you are, filling your afternoons with this and that, applying to jobs you know you’ll never hear back from, eating cereal and milk out of an old tin can, and having tea parties with the cat. Vacillating between leisure, guilt, and bursts of inspired action, your future is uncertain; your time is dangerously unregimented, and your shirt is on inside out. Sound familiar?

Not everyone’s unemployment experience is of the tragi-comic variety, but almost 30 million Americans between the ages of 25 and 54 don’t have regular jobs and still somehow fill up their waking weekday hours. Every year, the American Time Use Survey polls thousands of people on the minutiae of their daily routines, and yesterday, the New York Times sorted through the responses of out-of-work individuals, graphing out a day in the life of America’s jobless. What do these people do all day? Men are more likely to watch TV and socialize, while women are more apt to spend their time taking care of others. Some, expectedly, look for new jobs, take classes, and otherwise better themselves. The unemployed also tend to sleep more and do more housework than most employed individuals. The Times visualizes the data a number of interesting ways, most notably drawing the distinctions between the behaviors of men and women—check out the piece for the full breakdown.

But with all due respect to the Gray Lady, and though it may lack the intellectual, data-driven heft of the Times’ analysis, GOOD’s own attempt to chart the course of a day in the life of the unemployed does a far better job of capturing the gritty human element of life without work. Originally published in our Work Issue, we’ve updated this flowchart by Todd Levin and Jennifer Daniel, which is appearing online for the first time—a perfect time-waster to get you through those long afternoons of “job searching” and “updating your resume.”

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

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"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

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