A workers’ revolution? The seismic shift in the labor market is reshaping the employer-employee relationship

Labor shortages can be seen everywhere.

It is forcing restaurants to close, schools to cancel classes, flipping flight schedules, and fueling a supply chain collapse with the absence of truck drivers.

The scarcity of workers in the United States in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused some employers to raise wages and others to give employees a greater role in day-to-day operations. But companies are still struggling to retain staff, and schools nationwide are canceling classes at short notice due to staff shortages.

Experts say this could go on for years.

4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in September, surpassing the previous record set in August. Dealing with the impact of the coronavirus over the past two years has prompted many older workers to choose early retirement, while others acquire new skills to earn higher salaries, or move to jobs that allow them to work remotely.

Despite the abundance of job opportunities, there were 7.4 million unemployed people in October. The smoking cessation rate rose in September to 3% from a high of 2.9% in August.

Worker burnout has been rated high in various surveys, particularly in areas like health care that have been hit hard during the pandemic.

In short, the workforce of the so-called “Great Resignation” is undergoing widespread and rapid changes not seen in a generation or more, analysts say.

“It’s one of those events that happens in American society because of extraordinary events,” he said. Robert BrunoDirector of the Business Education Program at the University of Illinois. I don’t refer to this as a “resignation”. It’s a refusal to accept the terms they were working under.”

Republicans and many businessmen have blamed expanded unemployment benefits during the worst of the pandemic lockdown for causing a long-term shortage of people willing to return to work. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said businesses face the risk of shutting down again “primarily because of a historic labor shortage, driven by the Democratic policies passed earlier this year.”

Democrats reject this argument.

“What we have is a situation where workers across this country are saying, ‘You know what?’ Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernard Sanders, a Democratic Socialist from Vermont, tweeted.

The expiration of the expanded unemployment programs in September has caused more than 8 million people to stop receiving any unemployment compensation. Another 2.7 million receiving state unemployment benefits missed out on the $300 temporary federal additional weekly payment.

A total of 26 states had opted out of expanded federal benefits earlier, citing concerns that unusually high unemployment payments were discouraging people from returning to work.

The food services hardest hit were the resignations in September (863,000 workers quit) and the retail industries (685 thousand), with smoking cessation rates of 6.6% and 4.4%, respectively. The hospitality industry lost 987,000 employees, while 589,000 health care workers quit.

Nearly 900 school districts across the country abruptly canceled classes in the past month, blaming staff depletion and other problems not directly related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Unscheduled vacation days from school are forcing some parents to scramble again to find options to look after their children during the workday.

Amid this turmoil in the workforce, wages are increasing, but workers are actually losing power. Average hourly wages are up 5.1% this year, but inflation has jumped 6.2% since last October, more than erasing those gains.

President Biden shrugged off the impact of inflation as he noted progress in the recovery.

“Things are getting better for American workers: higher wages, better benefits, more flexible schedules,” the president said.

Many of the people who quit their jobs during the pandemic are blue-collar workers looking to switch to white-collar jobs with better pay and safer working conditions, according to California career counselor Kapesh Saraf.

“During the pandemic, people had higher savings because they did not spend the same amount of money, plus all the financial incentives from the government gave people some flexibility to do so,” the cashier said. “A lot of online learning companies are seeing people looking to reskill and trying to transition to white collar jobs, where you have the ability to work remotely, you have flexible working hours and much more pay.”

Labor unrest is also pushing employers to be more creative in their efforts to retain workers. Mercedes Austin, CEO of Mercury Mosaics, a manufacturer of handcrafted ceramic tiles in Minneapolis, said it has taken steps such as getting more workers on the company’s strategic planning team.

“I think it made a really big difference that people actually see that they can be a part of building something, that they’re not just arriving as a cog in a wheel,” Austin said.

During the pandemic, the company has also shut down its showroom, moving its entire product offerings into a digital display.

“I really got advice from my team about our manufacturing crew — we used to have a lot of different types of common people coming into our space, whether it was in a showroom or to the classroom, and we basically set them up in a manufacturing bubble,” she said. People have to worry about all kinds of strangers getting in and out of space. So we created a bubble for the team to work on, and I think just knowing that they could have a say in that went a really long way.”

About 40% of its employees work remotely. While Ms Austin said some employees have quit over the past two years, she credits the changes to enabling the company’s workforce to increase from 32 at the start of the pandemic to 53 currently.

the master. BrunoThe labor researcher, said resignations are taking place across all demographics, including people who choose to retire earlier than they planned.

“It just changed the consciousness of a lot of workers in a rather uncoordinated and disorganized way,” he is She said. They came to similar conclusions – that they had been operating under suboptimal conditions for some time. This is an attempt to restore balance.”

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