This is spot on, Sarah. Thank you.
There are a number of contributing factors to this, some of which you addressed. Another that you hinted at, and which I think is a larger factor than people realize, is how cancel culture (often backed by government action) has been forcing people to pivot, in self-defense, away from dependence on a job market they could no longer trust.
This happened to me a year ago, when a certain government mandate forced me out of a 25+ year tech job and into early retirement. “Voluntary” adherence to that mandate is pervasive in my industry, so looking for another job (especially at my age) wasn’t much of an option. That’s when I went “all in” on my long-standing aspirations to pursue a career as an indie author.
The broader point isn’t just that I was “cast out” from a profession I’d been in for decades, for lack of political compliance. It’s that I 𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙡𝙡 would have refused to go back into the current job market, even if that had been a realistic option. As long as I had the resources to support myself, I was adamant about using them to grow a future career in which my ability to make a living would no longer be at the mercy of these bad actors.
I don’t think I’m alone in that, and that a lot of people are probably working through a similar calculus. To pivot or adjust to a series of life choices that represent not surrendering to coercion, but protecting themselves from it by creating and pursuing alternatives. This is often called a “Parallel Society” response to growing totalitarianism, and it’s a natural one. And it’s one that I think a lot of time, savings and capital are now being diverted to, to the detriment of a traditional job market that’s largely been weaponized against us.