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Gen Xer Stop His Job to Be Keep at Dwelling Dad After Working 60-Hour Weeks

Randy Gerstbacher quit his job to spend less time at work and more time with his son.
Randy Gerstbacher

  • A San Francisco Gen Xer quit his job to escape the long hours and spend more time with his son. 
  • Being an “older dad” and a cancer survivor made him want to prioritize family time. 
  • He’s among the American men who have at least temporarily stopped looking for work

A San Francisco Gen Xer quit his job to escape 60-hour workweeks and spend his time being an ‘older dad’: ‘I’ll be 70 when my son graduates from high school’

In June 2022, Randy Gerstbacher made a decision that was years in the making: He quit his job as a project manager.

And he’s not in a rush to return to the workforce.

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

“I grew tired of being coerced into working 50- and 60-hour weeks without overtime, then only getting a 1.5% raise at year-end, a minimal or no bonus, and only lateral position movement opportunities within the company,” he said.

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

First, he’s an “older dad,” and he wanted to maximize the time he could spend with his three-year-old son. He said the male lifespan data he’s seen has provided additional motivation: US male life expectancy was 74.8 years as of 2022, according to the CDC.

“I felt that I should take the quality time now since I’ll 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 family time.

And perhaps most crucially, his financial situation made it possible for him to forego his previous income. Gerstbacher said his wife is the “breadwinner” in the family and that she was on board with him leaving his job. He’s also generally been responsible with his finances, which has allowed him to accumulate a solid amount of savings, he said.

While the vast majority of working-age American men have a job, Gerstbacher is among the rising share of men over the last several decades who’ve — at least temporarily — stopped looking for work. In 1950, roughly 97% of American men ages 25 to 54 had a job or were actively looking for one, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As of April, this figure had fallen to about 89%.

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Some men have dropped out of the workforce because they’ve struggled to find well-paying jobs. While some people without a college degree have seen strong wage gains in recent years, the employment and earnings prospects of this cohort have still taken a hit over the last few decades. Other factors, like disabilities and health issues, can make working difficult for some men like Gerstbacher — he said he had lingering physical limitations after surgery related to his cancer treatment.

However, the decline in working men is also due to some positive developments, like the growth of women in the workforce. This has made it possible for some men like Gerstbacher to become stay-at-home dads. Additionally, some men have stashed enough money for retirement to call it quits ahead of schedule.

Gerstbacher shared how he’s getting by financially and how he went about dipping his toe back into the workforce.

It was only worth returning to work for a job that’s flexible and interesting

In addition to his past focus on budgeting, saving, and investing, Gerstbacher said the income he receives from an investment property and his low mortgage rate on his home also helped him quit his job.

Gerstbacher said spending more time at home hasn’t saved him and his wife money on childcare, as they were already fortunate to have an “amazing support group” around them that effectively provided free care. However, he and his wife’s decision a few years ago to cut down from two cars to one has been a big money saver.

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

In the years ahead, the family’s finances could also benefit from Gerstbacher’s return to the workforce. He said he never intended to say goodbye to work forever — he just wanted to return on his own terms.

Ever since he left his job in 2022, Gerstbacher has monitored job boards for roles that “really interest” him and don’t seem too demanding, he said. He’s intrigued by recycling and composting, which led him to monitor the local job listings at the waste management company Recology.

But until a couple of months ago, he said he’d only sent out roughly a dozen applications and done a few interviews, in part because the job search process can be very time-consuming. He said he worked briefly as a substitute teacher but isn’t doing so anymore.

However, Gerstbacher recently began more actively looking for jobs and in June, he accepted a temp consulting job at a brokerage firm — the role involves data migration work. He also said he took an exam to become a San Francisco park ranger, and that he’s currently on a waitlist. He said his son starts preschool soon, which means he’ll have a bit more time on his hands.

Even though he’s in the process of returning to the workforce, Gerstbacher said he’s continued to prioritize spending time with his son.

“The most valuable thing to me at this point is time,” he said. “The company I’m working at is very flexible with start and stop times, which allows me to be available after work to get the baby.”

Are you a man who’s not looking for work or has struggled to find a job? Are you willing to share your story? If so, reach out to this reporter at jzinkula@businessinsider.com.

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