U.S. job market faces reshuffling as workers quit at near record rates

By Jonnelle Marte and Aleksandra Michalska

(Reuters) – Gina Marino quit two jobs last year.

Over the summer, she left a job at a small social media marketing agency for a bigger company offering more money and greater responsibility.

Three months later, loving her colleagues and the company, but realizing she lacked passion for the industry she supported, she quit again.

Marino, 25, hasn’t been idle for long. A more targeted job search brought quick responses from companies that needed to fill positions immediately.

“Help was really needed,” said Marino, who lives in Stamford, Connecticut. Last fall, she landed another role in social media marketing — this time for a hair care company, which is more in line with her interests.

She is hardly alone. Nearly 4 million Americans on average quit their jobs each month last year, an unprecedented wave of job turnover as the economy emerged from a recession caused by a pandemic which, although brief, seems to leave a lasting imprint on the American labor market. (Graphic: Rolling wave in the workplace Rolling wave in the workplace, https://graphics.Reuters.com/USA-ECONOMY/QUITS/lgpdwxnrnvo/chart.png)

Job openings are near historic highs as companies seek to replenish staff or pivot in response to changes in consumer demand, and there aren’t enough workers to fill all the positions. In December, there were nearly two openings for every unemployed worker, according to the Labor Department.

This mismatch means that many workers end up with more options – and take them. With hirings still outpacing the level of quits, some economists say the trend dubbed the “great quit” is actually more of a big reshuffle, as people take advantage of the tight labor market to move into better-paying, more flexible jobs. or to try something. New.

“Labour has become a commodity,” said Nela Richardson, chief economist for payroll processor ADP. “If you don’t like this one, you can get another one.” (Graphic: Strong demand for workers, https://graphics.Reuters.com/USA-ECONOMY/QUITS/egpbklonovq/chart.png)

HELP TO FIND HELP

Companies with vacancies need to expand their network to reach the right candidate and some are looking for more help.

Business is booming for Goodwin Recruiting, which regularly works with hospitality clients. Allegra Highsmith, vice president of operations, said the company is currently hiring for around 4,700 positions, up from around 1,500 in early March 2020, just before the pandemic shut down the economy.

The company has also doubled its network of independent contractors who help recruit workers, to more than 200 from around 100 at the end of 2019.

Recruiters are increasingly having candid conversations with employers about how they should make their offers more attractive by raising salaries, improving benefits or adding bonuses and other perks, Highsmith said.

Gianfranco Sorrentino, owner of three Italian restaurants in Manhattan, Il Gattopardo, Mozzarella & Vino and The Leopard at des Artistes, has experienced this first hand. It raised the hourly wage for some kitchen roles, such as porters and dishwashers, from $15 to $18. He also raised the salaries of management workers by 15-20%.

But Sorrentino, who also owns a catering business, said he still struggles to find qualified managers, servers and bartenders. “We have to be competitive not just with other restaurants, but with all other types of industries that offer the same things,” he said.

HAVE TO GET AWAY

Not everyone who quits goes on to better jobs. Some people are struggling to work due to ongoing childcare disruptions, and others have had to quit because they haven’t paid sick leave or fear they face increased health risks. at work, said Elise Gould, senior economist for the Economic Policy Institute.

“It could be a short period of having to step away,” Gould said.

Nearly 9 million people said they had not worked in the first weeks of January because they were sick with coronavirus or were caring for someone who was, according to a survey by the office of census https://www.census.gov/data/tables/2021/demo/hhp/hhp41.html#tables. Economists cast a dim light on their outlook for job growth in January, with growing forecasts that the U.S. economy shed jobs as the Omicron wave hampered demand and caused events to be canceled.

How long will the labor disruption last? Turnover may slow this year as the reopening phase winds down and more employers find the workers they’re looking for or learn to get by without them, Richardson said.

Some companies are using technology and automation to cope with reduced workforces or to minimize the risk of disruptions and closures when COVID-19 infections increase, which could reduce the demand for workers.

Meanwhile, more people could re-enter the workforce if a waning pandemic eases the strains keeping them at home, and with more competition for jobs, fewer people could quit, Gould said.

In the meantime, some workers are rethinking what they do and how they spend their time.

Gabby Ianniello had no job in sight when she quit her job in property development in February 2021 in search of a way to spend more time with her family and avoid burnout.

She left her Upper West Side Manhattan apartment and moved back to live with her parents on Long Island, where she was able to devote more time to a podcast and a website called Corporate Quitter, where she shares stories of people like her who quit their jobs. It makes money through digital product offerings like courses and guides and through consulting, partnerships, and affiliate marketing.

Now Ianniello, 28, no longer needs to get up at 5 a.m. to run and take a shower before arriving at the office at 8 a.m. Instead of wearing pencil skirts and heels, she can work in pajamas. “What’s great is that I have autonomy over my schedule, so I can kind of choose what I want to do and set the parameters of when I take calls and when I don’t. don’t,” she said. “It’s freedom.”

(Reporting by Jonnelle Marte and Aleksandra Michalska; Editing by Dan Burns and Andrea Ricci)

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