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Unemployed or underemployed

Most Americans aged between 15 and 24 hold down a job, but Maggie’s boyfriend counts himself among the 8% of his demographic who doesn’t (based on the Federal Reserve’s latest data.) She says he’s waiting to join the fire academy to eventually become a fireman, but has been unemployed for roughly eight months in the interim.

His joblessness has persisted despite the fact that he has a 1-year-old child. Maggie, who earns just $2,300 a month as a medical records processing specialist, has been supporting them both. She only has a high-school diploma so her career options are limited.

Nevertheless, she’s still contemplating moving in with her boyfriend and his son.

Her income isn’t enough to sustain such a move, however. Median rent in Atlanta is $1,933 a month, according to Zumper. That’s roughly 84% of Maggie’s monthly income. Even a one-bedroom apartment in the city costs $1,673 a month, which is still unsustainably high for her.

She believes her lack of education is holding her back, but co-host John Delony is convinced she can boost her income without a college degree. “I live in rural Tennessee, I saw a sign the other day that said McDonald said $20 an hour,” he says.

Indeed, blue-collar work is increasingly appealing. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that blue-collar workers saw faster wage growth than white-collar workers for the first time in decades, from 2021 to 2023. Fast food manager roles at some In-and-Out outlets pay six-figures, according to CEO Lynsi Snyder.

Maggie has the potential to work multiple jobs or side gigs to boost her income and make her next move possible. As for the boyfriend, Ramsey and Delony don’t see a bright future ahead.

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Challenges ahead

Maggie’s boyfriend’s unemployment is contentious. “Why is he sitting on his butt?” asks Ramsey. Delony, meanwhile, isn’t optimistic about his career prospects. “I can almost guarantee you he's not going to the fire academy,” he tells Maggie. “You know how I know? Firemen don't live like that!”

They advised her to “run, as fast as you can,” away from the relationship and the situation. “Your mama didn’t tell you [but] if you were our daughter we would get rid of Mr. Fireman,” Ramsey tells her.

“You’re being preyed upon,” Delony says, describing her boyfriend as a “deadbeat.”

And Maggie may well be better off financially in the future without a partner living off her spoils. Ramsey himself has advised callers in the “painful” situation of being out of sync many decades into a relationship. And for focused single women, the future is bright.

What to read next

Vishesh Raisinghani Freelance Writer

Vishesh Raisinghani is a freelance contributor at MoneyWise. He has been writing about financial markets and economics since 2014 - having covered family offices, private equity, real estate, cryptocurrencies, and tech stocks over that period. His work has appeared in Seeking Alpha, Motley Fool Canada, Motley Fool UK, Mergers & Acquisitions, National Post, Financial Post, and Yahoo Canada.

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