A recent CNBC article entitled, "Why aren't more Americans looking for work?" explored the declining workforce participation rate. It finds that, "The (unemployment) rate is falling mainly because the number of Americans working or actively looking for work is shrinking. That's technically called the labor force participation rate, and it's at just 63.4% -- a level not seen since the 1970s."
The article succinctly notes, "Put quite simply: Many Americans no longer want to work."
It discusses things like boomer retirement, lack of work-related skills, Millennials giving up, and the safety net of government benefits as reasons for this decline in workforce participation.
Personally, I would like to be working a regular job if the situation was right. Unfortunately, there are forces at work that are making it harder and harder to convince myself that returning to full-time work outside the home is the right move…and I'm not even a boomer, Millennial, or on any sort of government assistance!
Cost of Childcare
The cost of childcare can be a huge factor in deciding whether or not to get a job outside the home. As a freelance writer, I can earn money (albeit not as much as I might working outside the home) while caring for our kids. With childcare costs for infants and toddlers running right around $12,000 a year in the Chicagoland area in which we live, this can be a huge factor in deciding to get a "real" job again. I'd rather spend my time raising my children while earning a little money and saving big on childcare than sticking the kids in daycare and going back to work just to have a big chunk of my paycheck go toward someone else watching the kids.
Taxes, taxes, and more taxes
Sometimes I find myself wondering just why I should return to a higher paying job when so much of that pay will just go toward taxes anyway. The more I make, the more the government takes, so it's kind of a downside to a higher paycheck and a deterrent to heading back to work outside the home.
More than 40 percent of our overall family expenses is already devoted to taxes -- whether income, property, sales, amusement or whatever -- of some sort. Knowing that by going back to work, it would likely be increasing our family's tax liability by at least 10 percent is certainly a detractor, especially when factoring in the following issues.
Online earning opportunities and return-to-work costs
It's cheaper for me to work from home, and there are plenty of online income-earning opportunities -- even if they're aren't full-time work roles -- to help me do so. From sites like Helium.com, Textbroker, and Yahoo! Contributor Network, to blogging, selling on eBay, and other online money making resources, options are wide open.
Meanwhile, working outside the home can get expensive. I estimate that I save between $2,500 and $5,000 a year on transportation alone. Add in things like food, clothing, and other work-related expenses and we could be talking hundreds or even thousands of dollars in additional savings.
I'm a realist; and when I start adding up all the costs of going back to a regular job versus the rewards of staying at home, it's hard to convince myself it's the right move.
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The author is not a licensed financial professional. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader's discretion.
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