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starbucks4ever (78.27)

A shockingly high number



November 14, 2009 – Comments (7)

Here is one shockingly high number reported by the Department of Labor: in the last year, 61.8 million Americans worked for free, contributing a median of 52 hours, or something like $900-$1000 per person in dollar terms. Furthermore, this number was essentially unchanged from the prior year, suggesting that the first natural suspect - financial crisis - was most likely uncorrelated with the rate of volunteering. Other interesting facts: most volunteers were employed full or part-time, and the rate of participation increases rapidly with one's education level, reaching 42.2% for those with BS degree of higher. It is ironic that this presumably ultra-capitalist society appears to have a stronger commitment to voluntary work than any of those countries that claimed to be building Communism.

7 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On November 14, 2009 at 12:28 AM, scoobamang (< 20) wrote:

As a person who volunteers at an animal shelter, I think we all deserve a round of applause! However, I think that poor college kids who get suckered into working for free as interns for companies that can easily afford their services should be added to the list too! :P

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#2) On November 14, 2009 at 7:36 AM, outoffocus (22.85) wrote:

I agree with Scoob.  I refused to intern for free.  The biggest internship ripoff was that Disney World internship.  Worst...internship...ever...

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#3) On November 14, 2009 at 10:27 PM, ChrisGraley (28.49) wrote:

Throw the people so desparate for jobs that they are willing to give an employer a tryout for free in the mix.

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#4) On November 15, 2009 at 1:44 AM, jstegma (28.42) wrote:

52 hours is not an internship.  It's more like an hour a week at a church or something. 

"...most frequently religious (35.1%), followed by educational or youth service related (26%)."

Volunteering to be an usher at your church on Sundays or to occasionally assist with class parties and field trips or sporting events is not that surprising.  If you factor in the unreligiousness of Communist countries, it explains why Americans supposedly volunteer more. 

I think it's misleading to characterize this as "working for free" as if we volunteer to do the same bullsh*t that we get paid for.  Chipping in at church or the kids' school is not like volunteering to sit in a cube and kiss *ss for free.

I think Obama should lay off the people responsible for producing the report because it's simply a waste of effort.  If they want to continue to produce the report, it can be done on a volunteer basis.

By the way, I'd say answering a survey is volunteering, so if you fail to account for those who refuse to answer, you probably skew the results towards more volunteerism.


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#5) On November 15, 2009 at 11:48 AM, starbucks4ever (78.27) wrote:


I don't think that's the explanation. The way employer psychology works, the lower salary you demand, the less chance you have of getting yourself hired, and job applicants know that.


The unreligious part comes when churches let you volunteer for them for free. Aren't they aware that by depriving you of your salary, they are sending you directly to hell because your relative impecuniousness resulting from failure to collect a paycheck will prove that God is not looking favorably at you? They could instead create a different predestination by paying you $100 an hour and thereby getting you a place in paradise, and yet they choose to jeopardize your immortal soul to save themselves a few dirty bucks. Where is their commitment to God? They should be helping the faithful to purchase those paradise tickets instead of shortchanging them through volunteering :)  

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#6) On November 15, 2009 at 2:21 PM, RonChapmanJr (30.12) wrote:

Most Americans identify themselves as Christians and Christians are supposed to love and help others.  Not really too surprising.

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#7) On November 16, 2009 at 1:55 PM, lemoneater (56.59) wrote:

I think another thing to factor in is that overall Americans still have a better quality of life than some other parts of the world. If somebody retires early what are the chances that they will look around for something worthwhile to do. You can only play so much golf. I'm very grateful to the rich man who worked at my college for a dollar a year. He was in the financial aid department and he took it upon himself to help poor students. Somebody else told me about his unique way of volunteering. I still remember one gorgeous evening when I was standing around with a group of girls and he wished us a "Rotic" evening. "Romantic without the man. Lol. He was just one example, and yes, he was a Christian.

Jstegma, there are plenty of people who volunteer help in areas of their own expertise. Teachers help in literacy programs. Doctors hold medical clinics for the disadvantaged. Accountants give debt counseling. I don't know what you do for a living, but I'm certain you could help others make wiser financial decisions. For all I know you already might be volunteering in that way. (Incidently, if you ever worked with toddlers in a nursery you would consider yourself a philanthropist of the first order. It really is a workout :)

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