Is it True That “Nobody Wants To Work Anymore?”

“Nobody wants to work anymore,” lament established business owners who can’t find workers. 

These “job creators,” who typically identify with the baby boomer generation, put out flyers, list positions on all the big career websites, take out classified ads, and hang hiring signs on their doors but can’t attract applicants. 

Business owners complain they must work long hours to cover the gaps and wonder why they can’t find people to work for them. 

“No one wants to work anymore,” they cry, as they offer minimum wage for part-time work and a constantly changing schedule. 

The Truth Behind “Nobody Wants To Work Anymore”

The United States Department of Labor tells a very different story. A 2023 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows the workforce participation rate is at its highest since 2007.

So why can’t small business owners find the help they desperately need?

People Don’t Want To Work For YOU

It’s not that people don’t want to work. People don’t want to work for abysmal wages that don’t pay a living wage. They don’t want to work jobs that destroy their bodies or social lives. They’re tired of toxic work environments that promote profits over people and appease unruly customers to the detriment of workers. 

Younger generations, Millennials and especially Gen Z, want work that works for them. They crave meaning in their work but will put that aside for a high enough paycheck. They refuse to work menial jobs that don’t pay a living wage. They’re tired of being walked over by their bosses and customers and will quit rather than submit to poor treatment. 

Example Showcasing Why No One Wants to Work Anymore

A user of the popular r/lostgeneration community on Reddit shared precisely why they turned down a job.

The Original Poster (OP) said they went into a pizza shop with a now-hiring sign on the door and inquired about the position. According to OP, the owner “Lit right up and said he was the owner, had been working alone since he bought the place 30 days ago. Said he was eager to hire and gave me an application.”

After filling out the application and showcasing their ten years of pizza experience, OP landed a job offer but was dismayed to learn the owner only offered minimum wage. 

OP didn’t take the job. 

Why Younger Generations Don’t Want To Work

The post resonated with a lot of users. Many gave stories and examples of why they no longer want to work, and it’s not sheer laziness. 

Here’s the truth about why nobody wants to work anymore. 

Minimum Wage is a Joke

Far too many employers want to start new workers at minimum wage, which many job seekers consider an awful joke. 

One user said they made $15 an hour thirty years ago, which, back then, was enough to care for a small family. They pointed out that their state’s $7.25 per hour minimum wage falls far below a living wage. “I couldn’t survive now on 15 an hour,” they said, asking how anyone could survive off half that amount. 

“It’s basically just a scam if you are being paid $7 an hour in 2023,” stated another. “You are being scammed out of your time, energy, and soul.”

A National Low Income Housing Coalition report illustrates precisely how ridiculous the minimum wage is. It found no place in the US where minimum wage workers on full-time schedules can afford housing. 

They’d need to work 86 hours per week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment. 

Companies Don’t Pay a Living Wage

States with higher minimum wages typically have higher living costs, and even the higher salaries aren’t enough for workers who need money to live. 

MIT developed a living wage calculator to showcase the disconnect between offered wages and living costs. It provides a breakdown by state of living wage compared with the state’s minimum wage. 

California has a state-wide minimum wage of $16 per hour, more than double the federal minimum. And yet, it’s still not enough. 

MIT calculated a single person would need to make over $27 per hour to afford life in the state. Half the state’s residents make less than that.  

No One Wants to Work for that Pay

The disconnect between wages and living costs highlights one of the biggest reasons nobody wants to work anymore. 

It’s not worth it. 

People have decided that trading their time and labor for the offered pay isn’t worthwhile. 

“The opportunity cost of working for minimum wage is a net negative for folks stuck doing it,” said one user. 

If people can’t afford to live while working 40+ hours a week at a menial job, they’ll choose not to work. They can’t afford life anyway, so what difference does it make if they work? 

They spend their time pursuing interests and engaging in gig work to make ends meet rather than laboring at a job that doesn’t pay enough. 

Tired of Poor Treatment

Although low pay is a massive reason people don’t want to work, it’s not the only reason.

Workers are tired of business owners’ outrageous attitudes, expectations, and unfair treatment. 

Managers expect wage workers to find their own coverage when they’re sick. Many aren’t allowed to call off at all. 

Schedules constantly change, making it difficult to have a life outside work or a desperately needed second job. On top of all, business owners act like employees should bow down to their every whim, thankful for the opportunity to scrub toilets when they signed up to be hostesses. 

Toxic Work Environments

The poor treatment of minimum-wage workers is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s often so bad that the work environment becomes toxic, affecting people’s mental health and wellness. 

Managers scream at employees for no reason, threaten to fire them over minor hiccups, and revel in their imagined power. 

But that’s typically not the worst of it. Workers in customer-facing positions must also bear the brunt of the angry customer’s wrath. 

Customers treat service employees like the gum on the bottom of their shoes. They’re rude, dismissive, and plain mean. They berate cashiers, scream at servers, and throw coffee into their baristas’ faces while the managers smile and offer them rewards for their horrific attitudes. 

Minimum-wage workers don’t deserve that type of treatment, and many would rather not work at all than risk their mental health. 

When “Entry Level” Requires Experience

Many users lamented business owners who refuse to pay extra for required experience, training, education, or credentials. They pointed to companies that list every job as entry-level despite the education or experience required. 

“If the job opening requires a degree, a technical certificate, or more than one year of experience, it’s not “entry-level” by any definition of the phrase, nor should it pay minimum wage,” stated one user. 

Companies attempt to nickel and dime employees, paying them as little as they can get away with despite their expertise, then wonder why no one wants to work. 

Younger generations are starting to recognize their worth and refusing to accept less. 

Meaningless Work

Young adults don’t value money like Boomers and Gen Xers do. Many would rather work low-income jobs with excellent work-life balance than trade their precious free time for more money. 

They don’t care about pointless jobs with no meaning. They don’t feel the need to give their all so giant corporations can reap more profits

They’d rather continue living with their parents and working gig jobs while trying to make their career than trade their precious time for menial labor at a soulless company that doesn’t care about them. 

Capitalism Failed Them

Many younger workers feel capitalism failed them, promoting socialism as a better way forward for the country. These workers grew up hearing that if they worked hard and got educated, they’d achieve the American dream

They fulfilled their end of the bargain but got saddled with massive student loan debt they’ll never be able to repay. They can’t afford to buy houses that were only 30% of the Baby Boomer’s income. Millennials watched good jobs get replaced with technology while the cost of everything soared. They watch the rich get richer, and inequality grow exponentially. 

These young workers have no faith in the system, so why would they want to work? It won’t lead to success. It won’t help them dig out of poverty. It will only give them more work, and for what?

Welfare Cliffs

Society actively prevents people from working. We shouldn’t ask “why nobody wants to work anymore.” Instead, we should ask how the system forces people into unemployment. 

The welfare cliff forces people to choose between getting the benefits they desperately need and working their way up in the world. Some refuse promotions because if they make even a single penny more, they’ll lose all the benefits, like food stamps, keeping them afloat. 

We must change our welfare systems to a tier system that gently reduces people’s benefits rather than harshly cutting them off. 

No One Ever Wanted to Work

The whole idea of “No one wants to work anymore” is wrong to begin with. People work because they have to, not because they want to. 

The only people who want to work are those who find a career that aligns with their passions. Scientists, writers, artists, researchers, and doctors want to work. Their careers give their life meaning

The rest of us work because it provides a paycheck. We trade time for money to afford to live and do what we want in our free time. 

No one is passionate about working the fast food counter, data entry, or in a factory. No one wants to do those jobs. But, if they pay well enough, people will compromise. They’ll dedicate time to doing things they don’t enjoy for a higher quality of life and to provide for their families. 

Currently, these menial jobs don’t offer enough for workers to compromise. They’re low-paying, backbreaking, menial, toxic, and miserable. 

Why would anyone want to work there?

Stop Complaining that Nobody Wants to Work and Start Offering Something in Return

If you’ve latched onto the “nobody wants to work anymore” ideology, you may want to examine what you’re offering. Is it really that nobody wants to work, or are you not offering enough compensation for the position?

Nobody owes you their labor. People work because they’re compensated. If the job isn’t paying enough for its requirements, no one will want it. 

People do want to work. However, they expect fair wages in return. The company exploiting workers is the problem, not the workers who wish to support their families. 

Stop complaining that nobody wants to work anymore and start offering them fair compensation for their labor. Applicants will line up to work for you if you treat them fairly.

Author: Melanie Allen

Title: Journalist

Expertise: Pursuing Your Passions, Travel, Wellness, Hobbies, Finance, Gaming, Happiness

Melanie Allen is an American journalist and happiness expert. She has bylines on MSN, the AP News Wire, Wealth of Geeks, Media Decision, and numerous media outlets across the nation and is a certified happiness life coach. She covers a wide range of topics centered around self-actualization and the quest for a fulfilling life.