How the ‘Big Resign’ affected 10 industries
(STACKER) – Record numbers of people are quitting their jobs, especially low-wage workers. More than 4.5 million people quit their jobs in November 2021, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a quit rate of 3% across all industries.
A perfect storm of novel coronavirus variants like delta and omicron, inadequate workplace protections, indecent wages, and profound cultural shifts in the way Americans think about work have combined to drive workers to quit their jobs en masse – the so-called “big quit”. Many workers are rethinking their work and turning to work that feels more meaningful to them or that offers better benefits or pay.
This sort of massive worker action has already created a change from the companies and businesses that are now scrambling to get people into the workforce. Wages for low-income workers have seen their biggest rise since the 18-month Great Recession that began in 2007, and companies are starting to offer large signing bonuses and even free tuition to their workers. Many of these changes are unequivocal victories for workers’ rights, leaving many industries to question low-wage labor sustainability models.
The big resignation led not only to a shortage of educators, but also to general staffing problems in all departments of the schools. A nationwide shortage of bus drivers, for example, led to the recent announcement by the Departments of Transportation and Education that states can waive part of the requirement for a commercial driver’s license to encourage more candidates.
Teachers and other school staff have faced unpredictable and sudden shifts to remote learning, high risk of coronavirus exposure when teaching in person, and a lack of resources. These and other factors have caused some educators to question the sustainability of teaching over the long term. According to the National Education Association, 1 in 3 NEA teachers plan to leave their career early due to pandemic stressors. In response to staffing shortages, some schools are turning to online learning.
In the first months of the pandemic, around 400,000 airline workers were laid off, told they could soon be out of work or on furlough. As air travel has largely resumed, especially during the 2021 holiday season, airlines have seen many workers fail to return to work. The choice not to return to work in air travel can be attributed to the increase in unruly and mean behavior on the part of air travellers, the risk of exposure to the coronavirus and the lack of hotel accommodation for the pilots and flight attendants. The emergence of coronavirus variants like omicron has exacerbated operational problems for airlines, leading to frequent cancellations.
Needless to say, healthcare workers have experienced unprecedented conditions since the pandemic began in 2020 – conditions that show little sign of easing anytime soon. In New York City, COVID-19 hospitalizations have already passed last winter’s peak. According to US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, omicron will peak in February 2022.
Between the very high risk of exposure to the coronavirus, the long hours, the lack of access to vital personal protective equipment and the trauma resulting from exposure to mass death, it is no wonder that workers in the health are leaving the field in record numbers. The situation is serious enough that a bill to provide healthcare workers with training to deal with suicide, burnout, mental health issues and substance use disorders has been passed by the House of Representatives in December 2021.
Hotels and accommodation
As the industry with the highest quit rate — more than double the national rate as of September 2021 — hospitality and hospitality workers are among the large proportion of low-wage, contact-facing workers. customers who quit in all industries. They are also among the workers hardest hit by layoffs at the start of the pandemic. Due to staff shortages, as well as the growing popularity of other accommodation services like Airbnb, many hotels have closed or cannot operate at full capacity.
As generally low-wage jobs in the accommodation industry have begun to offer higher wages in an effort to fill vacancies, fears of frontline work and insignificant industry change seem to deter former hospitality workers from returning to these positions. .
According to an October 2021 survey, hospitality workers who quit their jobs did so because of a combination of low pay, lack of benefits, long hours and risk. exposure to coronavirus. For restaurant workers, exposure to the coronavirus has been particularly devastating. A 2021 University of California San Francisco study found line cooks had the highest risk of death from the pandemic, increasing 60% since the pandemic began.
Many restaurateurs have limited their hours as workers fear COVID-19 risks and won’t work for low wages, and other restaurants are closing their dining rooms and operating exclusively for takeout. Meanwhile, restaurant chains like Chipotle and Starbucks have announced they are raising starting salaries in a bid to bring in workers.
In Kentucky, hundreds of state social workers have resigned and the number of cases has increased by 18% since May 2021. The reasons for the departures vary, but many left due to high stress levels and low salaries. . According to the commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Community Services, employees can make more money working as bartenders or booksellers than as social workers.
Across the country and around the world, social workers are also leaving their jobs due to increased exposure to trauma exacerbated by the pandemic. However, heavier workloads and industry-wide burnout do not translate into higher salaries. In England, 4 in 10 social workers plan to leave the profession in the next few years due to high stress, too heavy a workload and a negative working environment. The shortage of social workers means that many vulnerable individuals and families do not receive adequate care.
Small businesses are reducing their opening hours, closing completely or even turning down business due to staffing issues. Some business owners are stepping away from their management functions in order to staff businesses themselves. Even major retailers like Walmart, Apple and Walgreens are reducing their hours or closing certain locations due to staff shortages. Companies must struggle not to burn out the few remaining employees by spreading them too thinly. Employees leaving the retail sector cite long and unpredictable hours, low wages and irritable customers, among other reasons, for their departures.
In grocery stores, the empty shelves of recent weeks evoke the early days of the pandemic. While supply chain issues are largely to blame for the lack of stocked shelves, that’s far from the only reason. According to the National Grocers Association, many retail and wholesale grocers operate their stores with only 50% of their usual workforce. In an effort to attract workers to frontline work, supermarkets are beginning to offer higher starting salaries, benefits and signing bonuses. For many workers, who quit due to coronavirus risks, angry or belligerent customers or other stressors, that may not be enough.
Transport workers, particularly in the trucking industry, continued to leave the industry for several reasons. Although truck driving was unattractive to workers long before the pandemic, it has worsened significantly since 2020 as many drivers have retired or turned to less stressful careers. According to the American Trucking Associations, the trucking industry is short by about 80,000 drivers.
This shortage means that goods cannot always move from ports to warehouses and then to consumers and retailers. Warehouses are stockpiling more and more goods, and typical product shipping times have tripled or quadrupled. Shipping costs, meanwhile, have increased four to five times, driving up the prices of goods for consumers.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the manufacturing industry has been hardest hit in terms of worker dropout rates, dropping from before the pandemic to the end of 2021, jumping nearly 60% . This major increase in the number of manufacturing workers leaving the industry may have been heralded very early on, when at least 59,000 workers at America’s top five meatpacking companies were infected with coronavirus during the first pandemic year.
A congressional report alleges these companies pressured sick workers to report anyway and failed to protect any workers from the virus. Due to epidemics, many factories were forced to close, especially during the first wave of the pandemic in 2020. The dangers of working on the front line without adequate protections, coupled with low wages, caused shortages of labor that have impacted supply chains both nationally and globally.
This story originally appeared on Kazoo and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio. Compiling research from industry publications and referencing recent data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, software company Kazoo has identified how 10 industries have been impacted by the “Great Resignation”.
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