A massive sinkhole is opening up under America’s economy in the form of Americans who have no interest in getting a job, Mike Rowe is warning.
Rowe was interviewed Thursday on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and said that for years, the country has been experiencing a “slow sort of unraveling of what we loosely call work ethic.”
And now, he said, there is a worker shortage unlike any other.
“We’re in a place where 7 million able-bodied men are not only not working … they are affirmatively not looking for a job,” he said, according to Fox News.
“That’s never happened in peacetime — ever.”
Rowe touched on an Op-Ed in The Wall Street Journal by economist Nicholas Eberstadt that talks about the “flight from work.”
“Economists like Nick Eberstadt take a dim view of it. They’re worried, and they’re trying to inject that into the conversation at a time when we’re still looking at the unemployment number as the true harbinger of what’s really going on,” Rowe said.
Eberstadt believes the unemployment rate is no longer relevant because it is based on the number of people looking for work who cannot find a job.
“We’re looking at the wrong thing. We’re looking at not what it means to have a bunch of people unemployed, but what does it mean to have a bunch of opportunity that nobody gives a damn about?” Rowe said.
Rowe said he asked Eberstadt what young Americans are doing if they do not work.
“On average, over 2,000 hours a year on screens,” Rowe said was the answer.
He summed up the problem by saying, “You know, 4 million fewer people are in the workforce today than before the lockdowns and 4 million more jobs have opened up. It’s almost a perfect mirror image and the reflection is kind of hideous.”
In his Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, Eberstadt said there is a “troubling paradox about the state of work in America.”
“We now face an unprecedented peacetime labor shortage, with employers practically begging for workers, while vast numbers of grown men and women sit on the sidelines of the economy,” he wrote.
“Never has work been so readily available in modern America; never have so many been uninterested in taking it.”
Eberstadt said the cash flowing from Washington during the pandemic served as a catalyst for the current crisis.
“In 2020-21, Washington pulled out all the monetary and fiscal stops to avoid an economic collapse. Those extraordinary interventions may have forestalled world-wide depression. But they also created disincentives for work as never before,” he wrote.
Noting that eschewing jobs is prevalent among Americans 55 and older, Eberstadt said his research also shows “a grim portrait of unworking prime-age men: checked out from civil society; largely disengaged from family care and housework; sitting before screens as if that were a full-time job.”
In a podcast released in September, Eberstadt said the issue is not a lack of resources.
“What we are lacking is the internal gyroscopes to give our life meaning with the time that we have,” he said.
“We’ve had this simultaneous explosion of wealth and explosion of misery in our society that can’t be explained unless we take a look at morals, values and personal ethos.”
Eberstadt said solving the problem requires acknowledging mistakes made along the way.
“What we should recognize is that, for unintended reasons, government has been more of a problem than a help with what we’d call the men-without-work problem. During the post-pandemic era, unintended consequences of the emergency rescue programs had the result of incentivizing millions of people to leave the labor force,” he said.
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