White-Collar Workers Will Lead The Next Populist Revolt

The evolution of class warfare

Barry Davret
5 min readJul 18, 2022


Licensed from Shutterstock // Athitat Shinagowin

The people you love to hate will lead the next populist revolt. Thirty-somethings with leased BMWs, impressive college degrees, living in immaculate suburban enclaves with 500K mortgages, and dining in cafes specializing in avocado toast brunches will find themselves left behind.

The layoffs are already beginning at tech companies, and they'll expand to other sectors as other industries face the realities of the impending recession. Mass job purges create stressful environments even for the degreed class, but in the past, they've often found employment as the economy bottomed out.

In my three decades in the workforce, I've seen peers succumb to mass layoff, return a year or two later on a contract basis, and then convert to full-time with benefits and all the goodies that come with it.

Blue-collar workers who lost their service or factory jobs often had no opportunity when the economy rebounded.

This time could be different.

As we pass the precipice of a recession, we face a landscape different than previous downturns where high unemployment marked the visible signs of a sluggish economy. Due to the labor shortage, we could still see low unemployment numbers because we lack the blue-collar workers to fill these jobs. White-collar workers will likely suffer the brunt of this recession.

But the impending downturn will mark only the beginning of job woes for the college-educated, sparking a new populist backlash that takes root in wealthy suburbs. Three trends will precipitate this dynamic.

Remote work

It's expensive to pay a middle manager or a tech worker in one of the major cities. A U.S. employee in a top metro area like New York City might demand $200K of salary and benefits, but companies can pay a worker in Middle America or overseas a fraction of that (depending on location and experience). These new workers will lack the business and institutional knowledge their urban and suburban counterparts possess, but they'll acquire it over time and will perform equally with their urban center counterparts within a decade, two at the most.



Barry Davret

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