Why It Seems Gen Z Doesn't Want To Work When Really, They Do

Younger generations feel increasingly pessimistic about their futures, for valid reasons.

group of young people sitting on stairs Ron Lach / Pexels 

A Gen Z'er named Mik took on the issues of income and labor in a recent TikTok, analyzing the older generation’s misguided understanding of what it’s like to work in the current economy.

The woman explained why it seems like Gen Z doesn’t want to work, when really they do.

She started her video by speaking to the people who might call her and her generation “lazy” for “just not wanting to work anymore.”


“I do want to work,” she declared. “Most of us want to work. It helps give you purpose, it helps [to] give you something to do, hopefully, you do something you’re passionate about.”



She explained that she is passionate about her work and “genuinely likes [her] job,” yet she still recognizes that the problem with our current state of work is how hard it is to keep up with the cost of living.


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“The purpose of a job is supposed to pay for you to be able to afford to live, and that’s just not the case anymore,’ she said.

She described how people of her generation went to college, doing “everything they were supposed to do… and they can’t afford to live.”

“We’re working 40 to 60 hours a week, and we just do not make enough to pay rent, to pay for food,” she said. “Everything is so expensive right now, and wages are not keeping up with the cost of livingWe are working full time, giving up a huge portion of our lives to work, and we can’t even afford to live,” she declared. “That is why my generation is frustrated. That is why we don’t want to work anymore, because we work really hard, and we still can’t afford to even get by, so what’s the point?”

She detailed how Gen Z and Millennials are unable to build up savings, buy what they want, or even enjoy themselves in the present moment because the world is so expensive. 


“We can barely afford to pay our rent and buy food,” she declared. She described the exact nature of the hustle Gen Z goes through, working multiple jobs, only to be told by older generations that they’re not working hard enough.

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Gen Z is stuck in a vicious cycle in which they’re working for wages that don’t support any form of long-term survival.

“The reason we can’t get by is because the cost of living since the 90s has gone up 67% percent, while the wages have only gone up 18%,” she explained. “We’re also in extreme debt because everything is so much more expensive than it used to be,” she said, listing off college, cars, and housing as three elements of living that have gone up in cost, yet are still necessary to get by. 

She then took her argument into an existential realm, calling out politicians for the destruction of the environment, “so we don’t even know if there will be a habitable Earth when we’re older to live in.” She described how all these elements make Gen Z feel “pretty pessimistic and nihilistic,” and ultimately, not want to work in this current economic state.


In a separate post, Mik explained why she might have to quit the job she loves because she “can’t afford to live.”



She tearfully recounted her personal situation, expressing her wish for work that actually provided enough income to cover housing and medical bills, build up savings for retirement, “basic things we were told to pursue in life and that we would have if we had a job. But that’s not the case at all.”

RELATED: Gen X Mom Asks 'Where Did The American Dream Go?' As She Explains How Much Her Kids Have Struggled Since Graduating College


With what she makes in her current job, “47% of [her] income goes to rent, which is just so unsustainable.” She said that the paycheck she had just received didn’t cover her monthly rent, explaining, “I get two paychecks a month and one of them doesn't even cover my rent. I know this isn’t just me. This is why there are labor shortages in so many markets… it’s not that people don’t want to be doing these jobs, it’s that we simply don’t make enough to survive doing these jobs.”

three gen z girls Photo : Polina Tankilevitch / Pexels 

She advocated for the urgent need for livable wages as a way to avoid an economic collapse.


“We’re already in crisis,” she said. “We’re having a teacher shortage, a nursing shortage, a skilled labor shortage. What are we going to do as those just continue to get worse… What choice do we have?”

Mik’s frustration was palpable, her desperation entirely understandable. She voiced a concern that’s at a true tipping point, the question of how to survive in a world that isn’t providing for its citizens. Hopefully, as more and more people raise their voices, a sea shift will follow, because it’s clear that this way of life is no longer working.

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers labor issues, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.