- One millennial who used to be a meat cutter told Insider that he’s underpaid and has no room for career growth.
- He’s considering leaving the workforce, at least temporarily, to pick up new skills.
- Young men with university degrees are fleeing the workforce.
This article is purportedly based on a conversation with a 32-year-old meat cutter in a Seattle grocery store. Insider has agreed to remain anonymous for fear of professional repercussions, but this is known to the Insider, along with his work and income.
answer me Previous insider story About the 2024 study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. It found that young people without college degrees are leaving the workforce. At that time, real earnings for this group had fallen 30% since 1980, compared to wages for all “age of majority” workers, people between the ages of 25 and 54. The researchers said that young people are concerned about the impact of this on their social status and eligibility for marriage.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
I’m about to give my two weeks notice.
I’ve been cutting meat at a grocery store since 2017. I felt good about it when I entered the field, and I learned while going to a small chain in San Francisco. At a time when other people my age were swimming in student debt, I was acquiring an in-demand skill that I could take with me almost anywhere.
After five years, though, I’m about to leave the industry.
When I became a meat cutter, I thought there would be more room to grow, and I might run a department or become a manager one day. But the longer I stay in the industry, the less common it is for those around me to earn this kind of advancement.
Moreover, the compensation difference between an ordinary meat cutter and a manager is very small. Struggling managers have recommended that they not pursue jobs like theirs.
(Editor’s note: According to data from Talent.com, the average salary for meat cutters in Washington is just under $41,000 year. For managers, it comes $52,000. A lot of people in the industry have quit, causing President Joe Biden to be shortstop announce problem.)
My partner makes a lot more money than I do, and it’s great that you do — but I often feel like I just can’t handle my weight. I take home about $3,200 a month. If there was ever a time when I could do this work and raise a family out of it, that time is long, long gone.
If they even want people to do these kinds of jobs, they have to pay more. If we both work, my partner makes twice as much as me, and we still can’t afford all the things we need, then something is really wrong. Something is really broken here.
In the chain of co-ops I’ve been working for over the past year, meat cutters don’t get reliable timelines. I usually work about 40 hours a week, but minimal notice and consistency makes it difficult to have any kind of life outside of work, even for basic things, like trying to make a doctor’s appointment. This is in addition to the constant movement from one store to another to fill employment gaps.
After paying a risk at the grocery store It ended last yearMy checks have shrunk dramatically – by about $400 a month.
I feel for a while, early on in the pandemic, we really liked talking about essential workers and how much we care about them, but that fizzled out pretty quickly: We’re essential, but we can’t afford the rent on our own. We’re basic, but we do the work of three people. We’re basic, but we don’t plan our careers around the kind of wage growth that people with degrees do.
I would very much like to create better conditions for myself and to have the kind of stable work-life balance that others around me seem to get every day.
I’m thinking of going back to school. I have a high school diploma and have completed some community colleges but have never decided on a specific course. I can’t drive, but I might see desk jobs offered by a postal service like USPS or UPS. I want to look at classes or certifications. It would be very difficult to keep a work schedule and try to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree or something like that. But I’d like to expand my skill set a bit and see what jobs are out there.
It seems to be the mentality of other guys leaving the workforce: You put so much of yourself into a dead-end job that there’s nothing left to put somewhere else.
Would you like to share your story about leaving a job or changing career? You can reach this reporter at [email protected].
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