Unemployment rate: The psychological fallout




A common misconception is that unemployment figures are only of significance to those who are jobless. However the ramifications of a high unemployment rate has a far greater reach than those out of work. It indicates the performance of the labour market and companies not hiring is an ominous sign of things to come. It is a closely monitored market indictor and for good reason, it reflects the general market sentiment, the disposable income of families, scale of purchasing power and many more.


In Singapore, whose economy has been typically of substantial might only recently announced that their GDP has shrunk by a spine-tingling 41.2% in Q2 2020 from the preceding quarter due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Such a contraction is a sign of things to come, companies will have to react to this and the unemployment rate is predicted to sharply rise.


Traditionally, when an organization is trying to cut cost, the first measure they turn to is to retrench some of their staff. They look at their payroll and compare it to the output of every individual. No one is safe from this. Every member of staff will be closely assessed and all anyone can do is to hope they are deemed to be worth some value.


Psychological Impact


As previously mentioned, the scale of impact that unemployment has far outweighs those who are directly affected. Families have to deal with the loss of income, expectations have to be tempered with egos bruised and tensions rising. Thus, the strain that unemployment causes on families can often be destructive.


It also affects those who are still in employment, the effect of watching your colleagues packing up their office should not be understated. This leaves an impression on individuals leading them to think "Am I next?" You will have staff feeling the need to constantly look over their shoulder and may even resign themselves to the fact that they are next. When one engages in a self-fulfilling prophecy, they are likely to stop trying, with efficiency and output greatly suffering.


Now, looking closer at how unemployment can mentally impact those that have been laid off. Such a process can destroy one's self esteem especially when they do not see it coming. Unemployment is an abyss that can cause an individual to stop trying and begin to start feeling for themselves. It is an easy cycle to indulge in, you go for interviews but feel discouraged, you see people who are less qualified than yourself get the same jobs you applied for.


Yes, it can be disheartening even soul-crushing but you NEED to plough on. There is simply no other option. Giving up is not possible. Be creative in your job hunts, be willing to try roles that you have not previously thought about. As difficult as it is, humble yourself if need be and take on a more junior role, wow them with your expertise and demonstrate that you are too competent for that level. In such a precarious climate, it is CRUCIAL to get your foot in the door first and work your way up later. If you believe in your abilities, it is a risk you should be willing to take.


Upgrading courses


If worse comes to worse and there are no jobs to your fancy, you owe it to yourself to engage in upgrading courses. Especially ones with governmental incentives that you pay next to nothing for. Take this opportunity to improve your CV, learn the things you always wanted to but never had the time, take on a new skillset you believe will be desirable in the years to come. You need to stay motivated and ahead of the crowd.


Doing so will also do wonders for your mental state, it will make you feel like you are actually progressing in life. You are doing something productive with an eye to the future. You are engaging in personal development, investing time and effort into bettering yourself. In fact, you will feel a sense of accomplishment when mastering a new skill which will boost your self-confidence.


One of the psychological detriments of unemployment is that you suddenly go from being busy to living a mundane life which can be quite a shock to the mind. Engaging in such courses takes this away. It will keep you as busy as you normally would be as though you were at work.


This is quite literally a win win situation for you, it requires minimal expenditure and has tremendous upside in the form of a potential better job and improved mental health right now. Take it as an investment in your future, you are ensuring that you are best placed for the ever-changing job market.


Take advantage of the schemes the Singaporean government has put in place, where you are given credits to attend courses of your choice. It can even be something that you can start a side business from like e-commerce. The possibilities are endless, don't miss out on the opportunity to capitalise by standing still.

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