The most disturbing statistic I have seen recently is the following: Trump voters are 50 percent more likely than Biden voters to be sperm donors.
This creeps me out on a political, cultural, and even biological level.
But the same hodgepodge of random statistics that supplied this snapshot also offers another fact, which is unrelated but still intriguing: Of those American workers who shifted to telecommuting during the pandemic, over two-thirds would rather find a new job than return to the office full-time.
That’s how much people resent being forced to dress in uncomfortable clothes, fight traffic, and sit in a cubicle all day next to a loudmouthed bro who won’t shut up about Monday Night Football. White-collar workers would rather quit and start over at a new job that allows them to telecommute.
But corporate types hate not having underlings to boss around, so there is a cultural battle going on between those who prefer to do Zoom calls in their pajamas and those who live to yell things like, “O’Malley, get in my office now!”
This clash is just one of the ways in which the American labor market is changing. Yes, we’ve all heard that no one wants to work anymore. The truth, of course, is that workers had a fleeting moment—brought on by simple economics—when they could quit shitty jobs for something better. The fact that companies had more trouble than usual in exploiting people was, for conservatives, a socialist revolution or a sign of the apocalypse.
But workers can’t be quite so picky anymore, and many Americans are now going back to demeaning work for horrible pay. Maybe this discontent is one reason productivity is way down.
In any case, there remains one group for which the phrase “no one wants to work anymore” is actually relevant. You see, the country’s “prime male work rate has been driven below its 1940 level,” meaning that “astonishingly, yes, the United States has a Depression-scale work problem” when it comes to American men having a job.
Let’s be clear. The “collapse of employment for men of the 25-54 prime working age” refers to “labor-force dropouts—neither working nor looking for work.” And it is overwhelmingly an issue only for guys born in the U.S.A.
For immigrant men, there is no significant decline.
Indeed, the pandemic “offered a natural experiment,” during which immigration was severely curtailed. After all, fewer people were crossing the border when COVID-19 was in full force.
So economists just assumed American-born men would fill “the jobs vacuum these missing foreign workers would otherwise have occupied.” But those economists now say, “Woops, that didn’t happen.” Almost all of the “manpower shortfall appears to be among native-born Americans, as foreign-born workforce participation appears to be back up to pre-pandemic levels.”
When it comes to good old American men, “the flight from work prevailed.”
So all those MAGA guys screaming about lazy immigrants? Maybe we should ask them: Do you even have a job, dude?
Regardless, there are few solutions to the overall U.S. labor shortage. Economists believe that filling all the vacant positions will happen only through “some combination of immigration, automation, and recession.”
That mix will be massively unpopular. But while a recession may be coming, and robots might take your job eventually, those two solutions are less scary to many Americans than more immigrants coming here to actually do the work and get shit done.
It is well-established that immigrants have higher levels of entrepreneurship and labor-force participation. As such, the best way to solve our jobs crunch is to encourage immigration and provide a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented.
However, as all know, one political party has staked its entire identity on keeping dark-skinned foreigners out. The anti-immigrant stance of the Republican Party is the exact opposite of what U.S. policy should be.
So we can expect conservatives to continue bashing immigrants, denying reality, and telling American-born men that they are so much more special than everybody else in the world.
And they will find a receptive audience. Keep in mind that American guys have plenty of spare time to attend political rallies.
It’s not like they have jobs to go to.
Featured image: Farmworkers pick strawberries on a farm in Fort Valley, Georgia, May 7, 2019. (Public Domain)