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'Workampers': What It's Like to Wander Around the Country in an RV Desperately Looking for Work

Finding a new job today often requires thinking outside the box, and you can’t think much further outside the job search box than workamping.

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Workamping is another option in the pursuit of employment during a relatively stagnant US jobs market. The American workforce is being forced to change dramatically in ways that were not demanded of recent generations. The days of working for a single company all your working life and earning a pension that will support you adequately in retirement are ending. Employers now demand less overhead and more productivity in order to increase profits. Full-time workers who receive higher pay and benefits are being replaced by as-needed, contract, freelance and part-time workers who are offered lower pay and fewer, if any, benefits. Large corporations are shifting profit centers offshore and taking with them the most valuable employees who are willing to relocate, while downsizing those who are less skilled and less mobile.  

The Ellingsworths are resigned to living their current lifestyle for as long as necessary. Suzann says, “I can’t anticipate retiring, since there’s no retirement income. The RV is home until it isn’t. We would never buy another house, since we wouldn’t want to lose it. But we're managing. It is a true day-at-a-time lifestyle.” There are 25 million unemployed and underemployed deciding what they will do next to find a job. Workamping is not the road chosen by most jobless, but for the Ellingsworths and thousands of others it is, for now, the only available road. 

Michael Thornton has spent the past two decades as an environmental remediation specialist and technical writing consultant. He is the founder of the Layoff List and he writes regularly for the Daily Insight at

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