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Gen Xers quit their jobs to become stay-at-home dads after working 60 hours a week

A San Francisco General

In June 2022, Randy Gerstbacher made a decision that took years: he quit his job as a project manager.

Gerstbacher, a 50-year-old based in San Francisco, was “really unhappy” at work, he told Business Insider via email.

“I got tired of being forced to work 50 or 60 hours a week with no overtime, only to get a 1.5% raise at the end of the year, little to no bonus, and only opportunities for lateral advancement within the company,” he said. .

However, he said there were a few other main reasons why he left his job.

First, he’s an “older dad” and wanted to maximize the time he could spend with his three-year-old son. He said the men’s lifespan data he viewed provided additional motivation: Life expectancy for men in the United States was 74.8 years in 2022, according to the CDC.

“I felt I should take some quality time now since I will be 70 when my son graduates from high school,” he said. Gerstbacher, a cancer survivor, added that his “brush with death” a few years ago also pushed him to prioritize time with family.

And perhaps more importantly, his financial situation allowed him to forgo his previous income. Gerstbacher said his wife was the family’s “breadwinner” and was fine with him leaving his job. He was also generally responsible with his finances, which allowed him to accumulate a solid savings, he said.

While the vast majority of working-age American men are employed, Gerstbacher is among the growing proportion of men in recent decades who have — at least temporarily — stopped looking for work. In 1950, about 97 percent of American men ages 25 to 54 were employed or actively seeking one, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By April, that figure had fallen to around 89%.

Some men left the workforce because they struggled to find well-paying jobs. Even though some people without college degrees have experienced large salary increases in recent years, this cohort’s employment and income prospects have still been affected in recent decades. Other factors, like disabilities and health problems, can make work difficult for some men like Gerstbacher — he said he had lingering physical limitations after surgery related to his cancer treatment.

However, the decline in the number of working men is also due to some positive developments, such as the growth in the number of women in the working population. This allowed some men like Gerstbacher to become stay-at-home fathers. Additionally, some men have saved enough money for retirement and may end it sooner than expected.

Gerstbacher explained how he is coping financially and how he re-entered the job market.

It was only worth returning to work for flexible and interesting work

In addition to his past interest in budgeting, saving and investing, Gerstbacher said the income he gets from an investment property and his home’s low mortgage rate also helped him leave his job.

Gerstbacher said spending more time at home didn’t allow him and his wife to save money on child care because they were already fortunate to have around them an “incredible support group” that effectively provided them with free care. However, the decision he and his wife made a few years ago to downgrade from two cars to one saved a lot of money.

“My wife drives our family car to work while the baby and I walk, bike and use public transportation to get around,” he said.

In the coming years, the family’s finances could also benefit from Gerstbacher’s return to the job market. He said he never intended to say goodbye to work forever – he just wanted to come back on his own terms.

Since leaving his job in 2022, Gerstbacher has been monitoring job sites for positions that “really interest him” and don’t seem too demanding, he said. He is intrigued by recycling and composting, which led him to monitor the local job openings at waste management company Recology.

But until a few months ago, he said he had sent out only a dozen applications and conducted a few interviews, in part because the job search process can be time-consuming. He said he worked briefly as a substitute teacher, but no longer does so.

However, Gerstbacher recently began looking more actively for work, and in June he accepted a temporary consulting position at a brokerage firm – the role involves data migration work. He also said he took an exam to become a park ranger in San Francisco and is currently on a waiting list. He said his son will start preschool soon, which means he will have a little more free time.

Even though he is in the process of returning to the workforce, Gerstbacher said he continues to prioritize time with his son.

“The most valuable thing to me at this point is time,” he said. “The company I work at is very flexible with start and finish times, allowing me to be available after work to deliver the baby.”

Are you a man who is not looking for work or having difficulty finding work? Are you ready to share your story? If so, contact this reporter at jzinkula@businessinsider.com.


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