“No one wants to work anymore” is a complaint as old as work itself

It turns out that the source of the above quote is the editor of the Rooks County Record of Stockton, Kansas, crying in 1894. the April coal mine closures due to strikes. Still, his words echo the mood of the day: For example, a Forbes article published in January cited a survey of executives: one in five agreed with the statement that “nobody wants to work.”

In a post shared on Twitter, political scientist Paul Fairie of the University of Calgary presented a collection of newspaper clippings from each decade lamenting the collapse of the work ethic. While the last few years have had unique characteristics like the global pandemic, it’s clear from the record that these sentiments are timeless.

“People’s interest is driven by the conversation about work – about Covid, inflation and the current pace of the economy,” Mr Fairie said of the post’s response. “It becomes clear that today’s employees are not particularly different from their predecessors.”

Although there has been a recent resurgence of the idea that people simply don’t want to work, it’s an old complaint heard throughout American history, notes Joseph McCartin, a historian at Georgetown University.

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