We’ve all heard stories about mothers telling their daughters that it’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as a poor man and that money lasts longer than love. And then came the Feminist Movement and, for the last sixty years, women have been learning to support themselves and not depend on men to take care of their financial needs.
But, now things are changing again. Whereas over the last half a century, women had been joining the workforce in record numbers, now they are leaving the workforce in record numbers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is saying that the number of women who are still in the workforce is at the lowest level since 1988.
Explanations for this downward shift in the labor force are varied. Studies show that women are now staying in school as long as possible, getting postgraduate degrees and any other kind of degree, until the economy improves. Other explanations are that many people can’t find jobs, or have been laid off, fired, or become disabled, while others have given up trying to find jobs.
In spite of Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, telling women to demand leadership roles in the labor force, a large number of women are opting to be stay-at-home mothers because childcare has gotten so expensive that it’s cheaper to stay home than to go to work. Of course, this begs the question that with so many men also leaving the workforce, who is supporting these unemployed workers?
There are also other very important factors for why there is this downward shift in the labor force. We have an aging population and employers who don’t want to hire them or, if they do hire them, they pay them as little as they can get away with. There is also a marked decrease in available jobs, and a country that sends its manufacturing overseas and no longer has the factories that used to employ thousands of unskilled laborers.
And, now, instead of hearing mothers tell their daughters that it’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as a poor man, we’re hearing stories of men suing their wives for alimony and child support.