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funemployment

noun [uncountable]

a situation in which someone is enjoying not having a job because they have time for leisure and other activities

funemployed

adjective

the funemployed

people who are enjoying not having a job because they have time for leisure and other activities

'Funemployment: Jobless young San Franciscans are welcoming the worst recession of their lives with open arms. Too bad the party can't last forever.'

SF Weekly 3rd June 2009

'For the funemployed, unemployment's welcomed … the funemployed do not spend their days poring over job listings. They travel on the cheap for weeks. They head back to school or volunteer at the neighborhood soup kitchen. And at least till the bank account dries up, they're content living for today.'

Los Angeles Times 4th June 2009

Every cloud has a silver lining … The economic downturn during the last few years may have robbed many of their jobs, but it seems that there's an emerging proportion of jobless people who have managed to see the positive side. With the daily routine of gainful employment abruptly snatched away, some people have decided to 'make the best of it' and enjoy the fact that they've suddenly got time on their hands. Whether it's an opportunity to travel, indulge hobbies and leisure pursuits, learn a new skill, volunteer for a worthy cause, or simply just laze around, this is not a depressing period of unemployment, but the rather more appealing situation of funemployment.

with the daily routine of gainful employment abruptly snatched away, some people have decided to 'make the best of it' and enjoy the fact that they've suddenly got time on their hands

Those who describe their joblessness as funemployment are typically younger people, aged mostly in their twenties or thirties and free from parental or marital responsibilities. These individuals usually have the freedom to be less cautious – either because they have fewer financial commitments, a fat redundancy cheque, or enough savings to release them from the pressure of trying to find work as quickly as possible. This gives the funemployed the opportunity, temporarily at least, to avoid the often stressful process of trying to find a new job and take advantage of the chance to do things they would be unable to do if they were working.

In some senses then the concept of funemployment counterbalances the recent idea of the lost generation, a phrase which describes young people who in a period of recession are unable to get the skills and employment opportunities they need. It seems that those enjoying funemployment, the funemployed, are not a lost generation, but a generation that, through loss of work, claims to be finding itself – and having a good time along the way. As well as providing an unusually long period of leisure, funemployment gives young workers the opportunity to re-evaluate priorities, possibly allowing them to escape from a rut or reconsider the kind of career they wanted in the first place.

Background – funemployment and funemployed

The expression funemployment has been around for the last two years or so, spawned by the wave of job losses caused by the recent period of economic turbulence. Notable in popularizing the term was former San Francisco marketing executive Alexis Mansinne, who in 2008 decided to view her redundancy as a positive opportunity for change and started writing a blog entitled Funemployment. The word has also subsequently been used to headline other blogs and web pages devoted to giving the funemployed inspiration for what to do.

Funemployment is of course a blend of fun and unemployment, cleverly exploiting the duplicated sounds in the two words. Following the pattern of unemployment and unemployed, a related adjective funemployed is also used, typically as a substantive (i.e. acting like a noun) as in e.g. The funemployed are mostly under thirty.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

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This article was first published on 6th December 2010.

Open Dictionary

chicken raffle

any random process, such as a competition in which a name is drawn from a hat

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