Unemployed Chinese Men and Women Flock to Starbucks Wearing Formal Clothes and Working on Their Computers Pretending They Have Jobs


Recently, a video released by “Sanlian Life Lab” showed that Starbucks has often been occupied by unemployed men and women. The footage sparked heated discussions online. At the beginning of the clip, it showed how Starbucks used to be a haven for employees taking their work home with them and stopping by the famous coffee shop for a much-needed coffee break while they finish their work for the day. However, as of late, Starbucks has been filled with ‘unemployed people pretending to go to work.’

Most of the people who occupy Starbucks nowadays are wearing formal work clothes, carrying school bags or briefcases, and working on their computers. They pretend to be employed and enjoy the free air conditioning for much of the day. Some of them admit that their family members would find out that they are unemployed, and some of them say that they cannot tolerate the prying eyes of their parents since they are always at home and not at work. Starbucks has become a safe haven for these out-of-work individuals.

The video talks about the 3 types of these unemployed people in a more detailed manner. Most of them would order a cup of American-style coffee worth US$4.20 (about CN¥30). For others, they would order a cheaper type of coffee so they could save some money. Lastly, since most of them have been unemployed for a long time, they would not order anything from the coffee shop. Instead, they bring their own thermos to be filled with hot water, assuming there are coffee granules inside.

James, who worked in a Shanghai advertising company for 6 years, is one of them. After being terminated from the company, he went to Starbucks more often than before. He admits he used to go to Starbucks when he was still employed since he felt that he was a ‘young urban professional’ and he likes to talk business with some of the customers in the coffee shop. Recently, going to Starbucks to have a cup of coffee has been the ‘last resort’ of most unemployed men and women.

35-year-old Brother Feng from Changsha has been unemployed for 3 months. He doesn’t drink coffee. After a job interview, he goes straight to Starbucks and stays until the evening comes before he goes back home. “I feel empty when I go home unemployed,” Brother Feng said. “And your parents will look at you with ‘that kind of eyes’. In Starbucks, I am very comfortable.”

“Sanlian Life Lab” claimed that due to the uncertainty of market expectations, unemployed middle-aged men and women in China has been piling up. Most of these middle-aged men and women who lost their jobs find it difficult to reintegrate themselves into the job market. In this era of fierce competition, and most companies prefer younger employees, it has become more difficult for middle-aged people to find new jobs again.

The incident that Starbucks is always occupied by unemployed men and women has aroused heated discussion on the internet, especially in Chinese communities. Some of them talked about paying attention to the employment dilemma. Some people also criticized unemployed men and women for escaping reality and not actively facing the unemployment problem. However, some netizens claim that these unemployed men and women understand their mentality and believe that this is their way of self-comfort and seeking social interaction.

Fact: Many unemployment dilemmas also occur to young people. According to data surveys, China’s youth unemployment rate rose to a staggering 21.3% in June, another record high. Additionally, Chinese YMCA members choose to stay the whole day at Starbucks, seeking comfort and human interaction through the irresistible aroma of coffee.

Images credits: © Sinchew Daily


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