‘Anti Work’ Movement May Be Long-run Risk to Labor Force Participation Goldman Sachs 

The anti-work movement (also known as the post-work movement) is gaining popularity these days. The rise of Reddit’s/antiwork topic, which has over 900,000 members – known as “idlers” on Reddit – has fueled this interest.

The pandemic-affiliated Great Resignation is both a part of and a driver of this trend. As a result of the pandemic, millions of people are rethinking their career paths and goals, their relationship with work, and their priorities.

Although it is known as the antiwork movement, some of its supporters wish to cease working. Most are hoping for a combination of more salary, better treatment, a better work/life balance, and increased job flexibility, autonomy, and control. And this quest is contributing to the recent boom in independent work and self-employment.

Since the pandemic began, nearly 5 million Americans have left the workforce. According to Goldman Sachs, about 3.4 million workers are expected to be gone for good owing to retirements, implying that 1.7 million people are willing to return to work. 

However, Goldman Sachs stated in a Nov. 11 note that there is a “long-run threat” to labor force participation: a widespread aversion to work. The bank’s economics staff referred to the Reddit post r/Antiwork, a social networking community with the slogan “Unemployment for all, not just the rich!”

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A common subject on r/Antiwork is narratives from younger workers about being overworked and burned out to the point of quitting.

The thread is about a tenth the size of the WallStreetBets thread of GameStop craze fame, but Goldman notes that Antiwork currently ranks higher in terms of comments per day than WallStreetBets.In recent weeks, the r/Antiwork subreddit has seen more activity than the r/WallStreetBets topic, which burst earlier this year.

Antiwork' movement

“We see some risk that some workers will choose to stay out of the labor force for a longer period if they can afford it,” Goldman Sachs wrote.

If more young people opt not to work, the trend of low participation in the labor force will be jeopardized (the number of people looking for work as a percentage of the total population of working-age people).

Before COVID-19, the headline labor force participation rate was 63.4 percent, with signs of increasing further. That percentage has struggled to break 62 percent since June 2020.

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According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) research, people are changing jobs at an all-time high. A record 4.4 million workers leave their jobs in September. Many of them have most likely obtained new work. With an estimated 10.4 million job opportunities, most people have found it rather easy to obtain new employment.

Earnings/Wages are the most obvious reason for changing jobs, but r/Antiwork emphasizes the significance of working environments. The thread is a treasure trove of examples about employees quitting after being treated unfairly by administration and customers.

Discussions of strikes and other labor movements, particularly against huge firms that employ low-wage workers, are frequently intertwined with the thread.

A Redditor wrote “I quit my toxic job without a new job lined up and after only a week on the job market, I obtained a position that pays significantly more. I resigned from my job as an administrative assistant for a bad company.

During my two years there, they reduced employees by 60% and required me to work “off the books overtime” regularly. I was paid $23 per hour. Because of the layoffs, they had me handling all of the jobs of a director of operations (who had been laid off) within a year, which I was Significantly completely unqualified for.

I quit with no employment lined up after being asked to work a weekend for free (apparently). I resigned with no job lined up. I almost quickly found another administrative assistant position that pays $33 per hour, is paid on time, has a 10% bonus, 20 vacation days, fantastic health insurance, and two floating holidays.

I’m satisfied. I should have quit earlier because the new place has no red flags and everyone has been extremely nice to me. My previous employer used to hurl papers at me and smash crap about the office, so I’m looking forward to working for a normal corporation”.

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According to Goldman Sachs, it is uncertain whether these “worker choices and lifestyles,” which are likely supported by a shift in labor force dynamics in favor of workers, will persist forever.

According to Goldman Sachs, it is uncertain whether these “worker choices and lifestyles,” which are likely supported by a shift in labor force dynamics in favor of workers, will persist forever.


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