Over the past two years, it’s become an all-too-common refrain. I just got laid off, now what? Considering the state of the U.S. job market and current levels of unemployment claims, the road back into the work force isn’t so cut and dry. So when three newly-unemployed New Yorkers met for a lunch to plot their next move, they unintentionally stumbled upon a support network that eager, out-of-work young people were happy to be a part of. Welcome to the 405 Club. If you’re reading this right now on your couch and it’s 2pm, you may already be a member.
Named after the $405 maximum weekly unemployment benefit awarded by the State of New York, the 405 Club has been offering valuable resources and networking events to unemployed New Yorkers since March. What started as a meeting between Jose Gonzalez, Garrett Dale, and Nathaniel Paul suddenly saw 405 Club events hosting hundreds of local New Yorkers plotting their comeback. “We wanted to do something where we got more people involved. We met another guy who runs a group for headhunters and they said ‘why don’t we co-host an event?’” Gonzalez told BigThink. “It’s great to get a bunch of unemployed people together to commiserate a little, but also to talk each other up and get some headhunters involved. That was when we said, ‘Hey, we can bring people together to do more than just drink.’”
Founded using Ning's social networking platform, the heart of the club is its series of helpful blog posts. They deal with everything from unemployment benefits to what to do when your unemployed peers suddenly find jobs. Since March, the 405 Club has expanded to almost 500 members and is growing nationwide, providing a support network for tough times as well as a pool of young, talented professionals suddenly finding themselves between jobs. The end result is a new model for how a nation struggling with underemployment can pull itself out of the muck.
There’s just one problem, both Gonzalez and Paul recently got jobs, Paul’s forcing him to relocate to Charlotte, North Carolina. But after providing a valuable service to countless people, Gonzalez and his fellow 405ers remain dedicated to the cause. “It’s definitely something that I’m very proud of. There are so many people who come up to us and relate to it. That happens when we have these get-togethers,” Gonzalez says of the 405 Club. “I don’t want to lose that. It’s not something I’ve been spending 10 hours a day at, so depending on my workload, I can probably continue at the same pace. But I don’t plan on walking away from it.”