But those top-line numbers obscure a muddier truth. After the latest employment numbers were released in February (which seemed to show remarkable job growth and an unemployment rate of 4 percent), one B.L.S. economist took to his Substack to call it the “most complicated job report ever.” In addition to those workers trying to trade their way into objectively better jobs, millions of others have simply left the work force — because they’re sick, or taking care of children, or retiring, or just plain miserable.
Last month I posted Reaching the Turning Point, where I observed the following:
It’s called the “Great Resignation,” and it’s partly due to COVID, but also partly due to the fact that Americans find their bosses to be things described by words that don’t appear on this blog. People are finding out that they can do without the income their multiple jobs paid to them, that they were underpaid for many of them, and that the family work was really as valuable as the “right-wing nutjobs” told them. The exodus from explicitly paid work is accelerated by the government forcing people out of their jobs by vaccine mandates. To do this in the middle of a general labour shortage might seem to be good public health policy but the effect on the economy and the performance of the system is still adverse.
I still do not think that the United States will remain the preeminent nation it has been with a work force as demoralised and un-aspirational as ours is becoming. The energy that has come out of that is something that has made this country special. It’s passing is understandable but there are consequences and our elites, whose own preeminence depends upon an aspirational workforce willing to put in that extra effort, have not quite grasped what this tectonic shift in American attitude really means.
But they will find out soon enough.