The reality of unemployment

It’s sometimes said that people living in poverty just need to try harder, but I’m not sure how much more Amy Scott, profiled today in The Press, could be doing:

Amy Scott and her two children have moved houses five times since the earthquakes. Scott lost her job after work as a bartender “dwindled off”. She lost her mode of transport in a minor accident.

She is now on the benefit, and after paying rent and power, she has $70 a week to spend on food.

“It’s a struggle; each week I have to choose which bill I’m going to pay. It’s really hard, especially when you’re used to earning,” she said.

She had been seeking work since losing her job in July, but was finding it hard to compete with the influx of other candidates for the positions.

“I’ve been to every bar, every retail place, supermarkets, The Warehouse … in the past month I’ve handed out 30 CVs.”

She pulled her daughter from Girl Guides because she could not afford the fees. She could not afford to send either child to relatively inexpensive activities, including swimming lessons.

Once again this makes the point that being in poverty is so often about having constrained choices, not the luxurious range of wonderful free choices that are supposedly on offer.