‘Nobody wants to work anymore’: How a simple phrase became the oversimplified scapegoat for every problem plaguing the American labor market

A Starbucks location in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania offered a variety of additional incentives to new hires, including “Free College” and “Free Spotify.”

On a recent trip to Pennsylvania, I heard the phrase “Nobody wants to work anymore” over and over.
The phrase has become common since businesses began reopening fully this past spring.
Like so many other memes in 2021, this one began on TikTok and quickly spread across the US.

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Maybe you’ve seen it on a sign at your local Taco Bell drive-thru, or as part of a screed on social media: “Nobody wants to work anymore.”

The phrase has become strikingly common in current American society, and taken at face value, it stands to reason that everyone has collectively decided to stop working.

On a recent trip near Reading, Pennsylvania, I heard the phrase no less than three times in 24 hours from three completely different people.

My colleague Áine Cain recently traveled through several states and saw the same signs everywhere, from Virginia to upstate New York:

Signs in Virginia (left) and New York.

It even spread to the most popular show on cable news, “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

“The government is paying people more to not work than to work,” Fox News host Tucker Carlson said on his primetime show in May. “So why would they work? Would you?”

While some Americans are receiving more money in unemployment than they would from a minimum wage job, the situation is much more complicated than Carlson makes it out to be.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has been the catalyst for a variety of huge changes in the labor market, including a drastic decrease in women – especially women of color – participating as a result of lacking access to childcare and major retailers like Amazon hoovering up available workers with higher wage minimums.

Some workers simply say they’ve had enough of being overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated during a particularly stressful moment: So-called “rage quitting” has become more common after 15 months of life with the coronavirus. And that’s all before we start talking about long-term trends in worker wages, which have been on the decline for years.

“Instead of no one wants to work anymore,” former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich said, “Try no one wants to be exploited anymore.”

9 employees quit en masse at a Burger King location in Nebraska. They cited egregious working conditions.

So why, exactly, is the phrase “Nobody wants to work anymore” so common, even across political, class, and cultural lines?

Like so many things in 2021, this meme appears to have its origins on TikTok: On April 9, a user shared a video of her local McDonald’s drive-thru.

“We are short staffed,” a sign above the drive-thru microphone said. “Please be patient with the staff that did show up. No one wants to work anymore.”

That video – more specifically, the sign in the video – quickly transcended TikTok: A …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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