What Is Funemployment?

Funemployment refers to unemployed individuals who decide to enjoy the free time that unemployment provides. The term was coined during the Great Recession between 2007 and 2009 to describe those who had recently lost their jobs and were choosing to use their newfound freedom to travel, go to the beach, be physically active and enjoy themselves until they found a new job. Individuals who decide to become voluntarily funemployed aren’t entitled to collect unemployment benefits unless they resigned from previous employment due to a reason, such as unsafe work conditions, discrimination or harassment.

Understanding Funemployment

People who describe their joblessness as funemployment are typically younger individuals with fewer financial responsibilities or people who have accumulated enough savings to enjoy the extra time their unemployment has afforded them. People who describe themselves as funemployed often point out that, during times of recession, finding a new job can be a long and stressful process so, rather than spending their days worrying about their future, they take advantage of the chance to do things they would be unable to do if they were working.

Advantages of Funemployment

  • Lifestyle: Funemployment provides individuals with uninterrupted time to pursue their interests and passions. For example, a philanthropist may decide to volunteer for their favorite charity or sit on the board of a nonprofit organization that gives back to the community. Parents may use funemployment to create a lifestyle that allows them to spend more time with their children.
  • Career Perspective: Funemployment gives individuals time to assess their career aspirations. For instance, a person may decide they’re better suited to a different industry and opt for a career change. After realizing the flexibility that funemployment provides, an individual may decide they want a job that allows them to manage how many hours they work, such as an independent contractor or freelancer.

Limitations of Funemployment

  • Financial: Funemployment may lead to financial hardship if an individual has no other source of income. The lack of a consistent paycheck may limit the length of time a person can stay funemployed, as bills, rent and mortgage repayments mount.
  • Reentering Workforce: Periods of long funemployment might be difficult to explain to future employers, who want to see a history of steady employment. For example, a person who has been funemployed for several years might have to explain how they spent that time when interviewing for a job. Individuals who hold industry licenses and certifications may not be able to renew these while funemployed, making it difficult to re-enter the workforce.