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Unemployment Checks at an All-Time High, Dilbert Unemployed

This article was written by in Career and Work. 8 comments.

As the economy continues to trudge along, more people are submitting claims for unemployment benefits. In the week ending January 17, more than 4,776,000 Americans received checks from the government to cover job loss, an increase of 61% over the same week last year. This number includes 588,000 individuals who filed for unemployment for the first time that week, an increase of 3,000 compared to the week ending January 10.

Has unemployment in this economic downturn affected you? I have one friend who owns a business. He has had some trouble keeping clients lately; fewer companies want to pay for his services when they need to direct money to more immediate issues. I have an additional friend who was laid off last year when a large publishing empire tightened its belt, but he is the only person I know who has lost his job due to what the media has been talking about for months.

That is, except for Dilbert. Dilbert’s boss fired him for using company resources to start a web business (watch out, bloggers), but Scott Adams’ decision to allow Dilbert to join the unemployed masses may be rooted in the general economic sentiment in this country. Recent strips have Dilbert concerned about his lack of income in a world in which bills are imminent and unforgiving.

Here are two recent strips which illustrate what many Americans are experiencing right now. Click the strips to view them full-size.

January 26


January 27


Updated January 16, 2010 and originally published January 29, 2009. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Barb

I’m really interested in seeing how this goes. I can’t help but assume that Dilbert will be rehired by his old job–that’s where the majority of the characters are (Wally, Pointy Haired Boss, Alice, Ted, etc.), and it would be insane to try and introduce a batch of new ones at this point. Of course, Adams managed to kill off Dilbert at one point, so I have faith.

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avatar Yana

Thankfully, my husband is still employed, but his days were reduced initially from 5 days weekly to 3. There is no longer stability in his work schedule, but currently has been given 2 3.5-4 hour shifts, so he is working 5 days now but not full days. It’s a significant reduction in income, and means we can’t save as much as we had been doing. My own income has been stable enough. Things could be much worse, though, and I have nothing to strongly complain about as long as we aren’t being terribly threatened. And contrary to my character, I’m actually feeling optimistic about our future.

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avatar Dustin Wyatt

It’s worth noting that it’s only an all-time high by strict numerical count. As a percentage of the workforce as a whole, there’s multiple points where it’s been higher.


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avatar Luke Landes

Dustin: That’s a good point.

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avatar Aya @ Thrive

Wow, I don’t know if it’s incredibly depressing that Dilbert is out of work or if it’s incredibly clever (I suppose it’s both). I wonder if it makes readers feel a little better, being reminded that they’re not the only one in an indirect way.

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avatar kai

I’m okay for now. My company went thru some bloody layoffs three years ago because it saw some tough times on the horizon (though maybe not this tough). That being said, they’ve cut stuff of as much as they can.

I also almost have 6 months of rainy day though so that’s good.

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avatar Lisa

I’ve luckily been unaffected by the current economic downturn. – knock on a pink slip.

But I do find myself putting in extra hours at work these days, Not because we don’t have enough staffing, but out of the fear of being labeled dead wood. Even though I’ve been with the same company for 26 years, I’ve seen that seniority no longer plays a roll when the hatchet man shows up.

The strength in America over other countries has always been that it could – mostly – keep its people working. As the famous psychologist, Maslow, illustrated so brilliantly: until one can realize the basic necessities in life, one can not enjoy beyond that.

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avatar Matt

Let’s just hope the new administration uses the stimulus money to invest in productive uses that create good jobs, not wasteful spending, as really the money they are using is ultimately being diverted from other sectors of the economy. But I guess there is no reason to doubt them yet, got to give them a fair chance.

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