My area of study, back when I thought a PhD would look nice following my name, was Labor Market Theory, particularly "Dual Labor Market" theory. There were basically two faculty/student "teams" studying the subject. Our team looked at the structural aspects, while the other looked at the sociological side.
To explain a bit. Dual Labor Market refers to a phenomenon in which there is a "Primary" and a "Secondary" Labor Market. Jobs turnover in the Primary market tends to be relatively stable, and earnings are strongly predicted by education level, years of experience, seniority on a job, etc. All those classic factors that instinctively pop into mind.
The Secondary market, on the other hand is characterized by high job turnover and very low earnings. The only statistically significant predictors of earnings are the prevailing minimum wage and hours worked. A PhD working in the secondary market will earn the same as a high school drop out. A person with 10 years on the job will not earn significantly more than the one hired yesterday.
While I was not seriously involved in the sociological side of the subject, several findings remain with me to this day. One was that if an individual works in secondary market jobs for more than two years, the odds of escaping that workforce diminish dramatically. Education, skill, training, and all the typical remedies for low earning do not work, unless it is retraining. For example, consider a graduate engineer with 10 years professional experience, who has to take a secondary market job(s) for a couple of years, perhaps due to a layoff. After about two years in secondary market employment, he suffers a high probability of remaining there. His probability of returning to primary market employment increased somewhat if he took, for example, a trade school course in auto mechanics and changed career fields, even if there were engineering jobs around. A career change was more promising than if he tried to return to engineering, even if he did more studies in engineering! In short, the Secondary Labor Market is the "Roach Motel" of employment.
As I said, my area of concentration was the structural side of the issue, so my insights into the sociology were limited. Thus, I can only offer the glimpse above. While this was back in the late 70's, early 80's, I can't help thinking about it today.
The good news is that if the above holds true, the laid off geniuses who brought this mess upon us might very well be flipping burgers for years to come! The bad news is that if middle class jobs stay off the radar for too long a period of time, many fine people may be trapped in their new found mess.
Another piece of bad news is that if people cannot readily return to a field where they have gained useful experience, that field loses the experience which they had gained. Sort of a brain drain.