Experiences of unemployment in young adulthood following the 2007-2009 economic recession

Gregory Andrew Welikson, Fordham University


My phenomenological qualitative research study explored the experience of being an unemployed young adult following the 2007-2009 economic recession. 11 young adult study participants, ages 22-26, explored their experiences of unemployment via in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Every interview was unique and the questions asked were based upon participants' prior responses, in addition to the interview protocol. The study yielded 9 major themes: (a) Relationships, (b) Agentic action, (c) Context, (d) Emotional difficulty, (e) Shame and embarrassment, (f) Money and safety, (g) Identity, (h) Family and cultural models, and (i) the overall theme of loss. Participants' experiences of unemployment were greatly impacted by the quality of their relationships, and contextual factors such as United States culture, geographic location, and electronics breaking. Further, the experience of unemployment was very emotionally difficult for all participants. Money, and in turn safety and security, greatly impacted participants' experiences of unemployment. Participants who had fears about affording basic necessities, such as housing, understandably experienced unemployment as particularly difficult. Identity, including discrimination based upon identity impacted participants' experiences of unemployment. Unemployment included not only a job loss, but also a loss of identity, self-esteem, relational stability, and safety. All participants engaged in intentional action to secure future employment. My study has clinical, theoretical, developmental, and social justice implications. These include therapy groups exclusively for unemployed young adults, the impact on the construct of emerging adulthood, and the ways that counseling psychologists can be agents for social change in public policies that impact unemployed individuals.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Counseling Psychology

Recommended Citation

Welikson, Gregory Andrew, "Experiences of unemployment in young adulthood following the 2007-2009 economic recession" (2016). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3703298.