American workers who are emotionally disconnected from their work and workplace -- known as "actively disengaged" workers -- rate their lives more poorly than do those who are unemployed. Forty-two percent of actively disengaged workers are thriving in their lives, compared with 48% of the unemployed. At the other end of the spectrum are "engaged" employees -- American workers who are involved in and enthusiastic about their work -- 71% of whom are thriving.
As folks like Tyler Cowen and Michael Mandel develop insights into economic trends, I think that the issue of people getting by without working should get a lot of focus. We call it involuntary unemployment, but we could call at least some of it "unemployment that beats the alternative."
I am not criticizing people who are unemployed. The fact that work is today a lot more optional than it used to be is a good thing. A really good thing. But the adjustment of our culture and our approach to policy has a long way to go.