What Is Funemployment?

The term funemployment refers to a period of time when individuals decide to enjoy the free time that comes with being unemployed. The slang term "funemployment" is used to describe those who lost their jobs and choose to use their newfound freedom to pursue leisure activities such as traveling, going to the beach, and being physically active until they find a new job. And because this is a made-up term for being unemployed, there are no "funemployed rules" to follow, other than the rules that apply for claiming unemployment benefits.

Key Takeaways

  • Funemployment is a period of time when individuals decide to enjoy the free time that comes with being unemployed until they find a new job.
  • The term was coined during the Great Recession when millions of workers lost their jobs.
  • It may be difficult to enjoy being funemployed if you have a family to support or heavy debt, like student loans.
  • People who are funemployed tend to participate in leisure activities such as traveling, volunteering, or socializing.
  • The funemployed don't worry about being jobless, with most relying heavily on savings to live.

Understanding Funemployment

Funemployment is a relatively new term that was developed following the financial crisis. It is a compound word made up of the terms fun and unemployment. As such, it's a period of unemployment people use to have fun. It describes the situation of someone who doesn't have a job and still enjoys their time off. People who become funemployed may do so by choice or may decide to take part in funemployment when they are suddenly laid off or fired from their jobs.

People who describe their joblessness as funemployment are typically younger individuals with fewer financial responsibilities. They may also be people with enough accumulated savings to enjoy the extra time their unemployment affords them. Funemployed people often point out that finding a new job can be a long and stressful process—especially during tough economic times. They opt to take advantage of the chance to do things they normally wouldn't be able to do if they were employed.

For instance, they may partake in leisure activities such as traveling, working out, socializing, and just having a good time. Some may decide to do meaningful unpaid work such as volunteering in their community.

If you want to collect unemployment benefits, your resignation from a job must have been for a valid reason such as unsafe work conditions, discrimination, or harassment. Otherwise, you won't qualify.

History of Funemployment

This term was coined during the Great Recession between 2007 and 2009 when approximately 8.8 million U.S. workers filed for unemployment. The slang term stuck, and some individuals may opt to take a period of funemployment to plot their next career move or take a break from working to enjoy other aspects of life.

Benefits of Funemployment

A period of funemployment can be a very positive time for individuals. Not only does it help ameliorate their lifestyles, but it can also help them gain some valuable perspective on their career. Funemployment provides individuals with uninterrupted time to pursue their interests and passions by taking classes or volunteering.

For example, a philanthropist may decide to volunteer for their favorite charity or sit on the board of a nonprofit organization (NPO) that gives back to the community. Parents may use funemployment to create a lifestyle that allows them to spend more time with their children.

Funemployment may also give individuals time to assess their career aspirations and opt to make a career change. After realizing the flexibility that funemployment provides, individuals may decide they want a job that allows them to manage how many hours they work, such as an independent contractor or freelancer.

Individuals who hold industry licenses and certifications may not be able to renew these while funemployed, making it difficult to re-enter the workforce.

Limitations of Funemployment

But there are certainly pitfalls to taking in a period of funemployment, especially when it comes to someone's financial standing. And it may be difficult to explain that period of absence from the working world.

Funemployment may lead to financial hardship if an individual has no other income source, and it could be difficult to do if you have dependents and debt. The lack of a consistent paycheck may limit the length of time a person can stay funemployed as bills, rent, and mortgage payments mount. Besides, periods of long funemployment might be difficult to explain to future employers who want to see a steady employment history. For example, a person who has been funemployed for several years might have to explain how they spent that time interviewing for a job.

Special Considerations

Most people who are funemployed generally rely on their savings to fuel their leisure activities and travel. People who become voluntarily funemployed aren’t entitled to collect unemployment benefits unless they resigned from their job for a valid reason, such as unsafe work conditions, discrimination, or harassment.

Funemployment can often turn into plain unemployment if you can't find a job over time, or your benefits and savings run out before you are employed again.

Article Sources
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  1. MarketWatch. "These Out-of-Work Professionals Made ‘Funemployment’ Work for Them." Accessed March 7, 2021.

  2. The Pew Foundation. "Unemployment rose higher in three months of COVID-19 than it did in two years of the Great Recession." Accessed March 7, 2021.

  3. MarketWatch. "These Out-of-Work Professionals Made ‘Funemployment’ Work for Them." Accessed March 7, 2021.