'Unemployed' Have Given $6.9 Million In Political Contributions Since 1990

05/14/2010 04:32 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

You'd think unemployed people wouldn't have spare money to throw at the political system... but they do.

Since 1990, the unemployed have given $6.9 million to candidates, parties, and political action committees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The rate of giving seems to have increased markedly in recent years.

In the 2008 presidential election cycle, the unemployed coughed up $2.9 million. In 2006, they donated $1.1 million. From 1990 to 2004, they gave candidates and PACs $2.4 million.

So far in the 2010 cycle, which is soon entering the home stretch, the jobless have only given up $323,413. Maybe it's the recession.

The data are based on forms filed with the Federal Election Commission by political committees every quarter after the money has been collected from donors. There's no menu of options for the occupation field, so people giving money describe themselves the way they see fit.

How many of the "unemployed" donors are sharing their last dime with a political campaign? It seems a safe bet that many, if not most, are in a secure financial situation. Lots of donors describe themselves as unemployed/retired or unemployed/homemaker or unemployed/student.

Others are more intriguing: What about the woman in Eads, Tenn. who put herself down as "unemployed/aspiring actress," and donated $2,400 to Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul (R) in December? What about the woman in Gahanna, Ohio, who is an unemployed "Jill of All Trades" and spared $250 for EMILY's List in February? And what's the story with the woman in New Providence, N.J., who listed her occupation as "UNEMPLOYED WITHIN LAST MONTH= CIGNA" and gave $250 to the Democratic National Committee?

HuffPost attempted to reach these people and a dozen others on Friday, to no avail.

Are these folks of means or true believers giving away their savings?

Browse political donors at the FEC's website or at the Center for Responsive Politics. Send tips to arthur@huffingtonpost.com.