‘A job is not just a job’: Why some unemployed people aren’t jumping at job openings

When Jaime Reuter, 24, was laid off from as a part-time workplace supervisor at Merrill Lynch

in January 2020, they by no means imagined it might take greater than a yr and a half to search out one other job.

For the subsequent two months Reuter, who makes use of they/them pronouns, utilized nonstop for brand new jobs exterior of finance, an trade they have been trying to get out of previous to getting let go. 

However by March, “there was nothing even to use for,” Reuter, who’s from Staten Island, stated. “Not solely was I unemployed however at the moment lots of people I knew have been additionally changing into unemployed.”

A yr and a half later, Reuter had no problem discovering job postings — actually, by September 2021 that they had utilized to greater than 200 positions.

“I hardly received denied from any jobs as a result of 90% of the roles I utilized to by no means contacted me,” stated Reuter, who graduated from Tempo College with a bachelor’s diploma in 2019.

Listening to about widespread labor shortages and a file 10.9 million job openings felt humiliating, Reuter informed MarketWatch.

Reuter remembers their dad and mom asking, “‘How are you going to not get a job when there are such a lot of job openings?’ I’m like, ‘OK, right here’s my résumé, right here’s all my info, get me a job.’ ”

A excessive variety of job openings occurring concurrently with a excessive variety of individuals in search of work is “undoubtedly not a typical expertise” for labor markets, stated Karen Dynan, a Harvard College economist who served as chief economist on the Treasury Division in the course of the Obama administration.

Final month companies added a fewer-than-forecast 194,000 jobs, whereas some 7.7 million individuals remained unemployed. But employers throughout the nation are struggling to fill job openings, with near 11 million roles unfilled.

Reuter was roughly an outlier amongst unemployed individuals.

They’re snug working in individual and so they don’t have youngsters to handle — two components which might be probably behind why so many People aren’t returning to work, stated Dynan.

However there’s much more to the story than that.

Extra staff are retiring 

Earlier than the pandemic, the labor-force participation charge for U.S. adults 55 and older was simply above 40%. However final month it was under 39%.

“Some individuals who have been approaching regular retirement age discovered themselves in higher circumstances than they in any other case can be in,” stated Dynan.

Throughout the pandemic, like many People, individuals approaching retirement probably have been capable of save extra money than typical, significantly within the months when many of the financial system was shut down. On high of that, their 401(okay) accounts probably appreciated over the course of the pandemic due to a bull market.

Small companies that have been crippled by the pandemic can’t essentially afford to lift wages

If employers are struggling to fill openings, it might make sense for them to contemplate elevating wages. However some small companies that have been lucky sufficient to outlive the lockdown section of the pandemic can’t necessarily afford to pay their workers more.

In the meantime, large firms akin to Walmart

and Amazon
that are additionally experiencing labor shortages, have been capable of raise their minimum wages to lure staff in. At Amazon, new hires will probably be paid a median of greater than $17 an hour.

Regardless that Reuter was determined to discover a job, they stayed away from low-paying retail and meals trade jobs. 

“It seems like sh— to have to use to a minimum-wage job the place there are not any advantages and you already know you’re going to get handled like rubbish,” Reuter stated.

However two weeks in the past, a pal who works at JP McHale, a pest administration firm that serves the tri-state space, shared a chance to work as a customer-service consultant. In the end Reuter was employed on the spot for the place, which pays $19 an hour and comes with advantages together with medical health insurance and 401(okay) contributions. They begin engaged on Monday.

A job isn’t just a job’

The pandemic in some ways has pushed extra staff to search for job alternatives which have higher working situations than their prior jobs, stated Kathryn Zickuhr, a labor-market coverage analyst on the Washington Middle for Equitable Progress, a left-leaning analysis and grantmaking nonprofit.

It’s additionally triggered extra staff to comprehend that “a job isn’t just a job,” she stated.

“It’s wages, schedule, the variety of hours, advantages, location” — and since there are such a lot of job openings, extra staff are being extra selective and making use of to jobs that test off their must-have situations. 

However as a result of tens of millions of People stopped receiving unemployment advantages final month, ultimately extra staff should accept less-than-ideal positions.

“Whereas it might be the case that some households constructed up additional financial savings over the pandemic interval, these financial savings are going to dry up in the event that they don’t have jobs,” stated Dynan. “By that time, they’re going to want to take jobs they might not like.” | ‘A job isn’t just a job’: Why some unemployed individuals aren’t leaping at job openings


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