Recession fears are rising. Why are people still quitting their jobs?

Interest rates are rising, inflation is lingering at four-decade highs, the economy appears to be slowing and experts fear a recession is on the way. But Americans are still quitting their jobs at near-record rates in the face of growing economic uncertainty. 

The percentage of American workers who quit their jobs set a record earlier this year and has only dropped slightly as the economy slows from two years of torrid growth. After reaching 2.9 percent this spring, the quits rate dropped to 2.7 percent in July, according to data released Tuesday by the Labor Department.

The idea of quitting a job amid a period of increased cost of living and a dubious economic future may seem counterintuitive. But the labor market has remained stacked in favor of workers, who see ample opportunities to boost their earnings to supplant increased costs from inflation.

Despite recent declines, job openings still outnumber unemployed workers by a sizable margin, illustrating just how tight the labor market remains,” wrote AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at Indeed Hiring Lab, in a Monday analysis.

There were roughly two open jobs for every unemployed American, according to Labor Department data, giving job seekers ample opportunities to find new jobs with better pay or working conditions. Businesses are still scrambling to find enough workers to keep up with consumer spending — which is well above pre-pandemic levels — from a workforce that remains smaller than it was before COVID-19.

“It seems possible that employer demand would need to cool significantly more before recruiters start to notice an easing in recruiting conditions,” Konkel wrote.

In other words, employers still have too many open jobs and not enough candidates to avoid boosting wages and other perks to find talent. And that means workers still have ample incentive to quit for a better-paying job, particularly with inflation still high.

Job seekers on Indeed.com are looking for ever-higher wages, Konkel explained. The number of Indeed users seeking jobs with a $20 per hour wage rose above those seeking $15 per hour in June 2022, and the number of jobseekers looking for $25 per hour is up 122 percent over the past 12 months.

Konkel attributed the spike in job seekers looking for more money to the steady increase in advertised wages and the inflation they’ve helped to feed.

Once job seekers know it’s possible to attain a higher wage, their expectations may shift and act as a pull factor in searching for a higher dollar amount. In this case, the shift in job seeker expectations from searching for $15 to instead $20 is clear,” Konkel explained.

“On the flip side, inflation continues to take a bite out of workers’ paychecks,” she continued, noting that only 46 percent of workers saw wage gains that outpaced inflation.

The pressure to quit for a higher paying job has been highest in the private sector, where 3.5 percent of the workforce left their current employer in July. Workers in industries with historically low wages, tough working conditions and limited teleworking options have led the charge.

The leisure and hospitality sector posted a whopping 6.1 percent quit rate in July, down sharply from 6.9 percent a year ago but still nearly twice the national quit rate.

Restaurants and bars in particular have struggled to return to pre-pandemic employment levels despite rapidly raising wages. The pressure has also made it nearly impossible for those businesses to fire or lay off employees, even amid usual season turnover.

“Hospitality companies tell us that what was once a ‘one strike, you’re out’ rule for employees who failed to show up at work without notice is now more like a ‘ten strikes, you’re out’ rule. They cannot afford to fire workers because they cannot afford to replace them,” said Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter.

“The decline in terminations in industries like hospitality have been so large, they have more than offset the increase in layoffs in the tech sector,” she explained.

Quits have also remained high in retail (4 percent) and the transportation and warehousing sectors (3.5 percent), with both industries facing threats from a decline in goods spending and rising interest rates.

Even so, there are some signs of waning worker confidence, which may lead to a decline in quits.

ZipRecruiter’s job seeker confidence index dropped 4.5 points in August to an all-time low of 97.8, Pollak said, with a greater number of applicants looking for job security over higher wages.

Since the pandemic, job seekers have been looking for higher pay, less stress, and greater flexibility. In August however, job security rose to the second-place spot in their priority ranking,” Pollak explained.

“One in four employed job seekers say they feel less secure about their current job than they did six months ago. Rising risk of a recession, paired with a wave of recent tech layoffs, has made employees more concerned about the precarity of their jobs.”

Coronavirus-wracked nursing home evacuated after most of staff failed to show for two days

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/04/09/california-nursing-home-coronavirus/?fbclid=IwAR2qdVFKS7o1m5NgYcx2_brXqGxqxrrlcO52cD9Xxd4l_FSZDaKUwyputu8&utm_campaign=wp_main&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook

Coronavirus-wracked California nursing home evacuated after staff ...

A California nursing home where dozens have tested positive for the novel coronavirus was forced to evacuate Wednesday after a majority of its staff failed to show up to work for the second consecutive day, according to public health officials.

People decked out in masks, gloves and protective gowns could be seen wheeling residents of the Magnolia Rehabilitation & Nursing Center in Riverside, Calif., one by one on stretchers to ambulances that would take them to other care facilities in the area.

“We have a large vulnerable population at any of our long-term-care facilities, and we want to make sure those people are taken care of,” he said.

Nursing homes and other long-term-care centers nationwide have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus, which poses much higher risks to elderly people and those with underlying health conditions. In recent months, facilities have reported struggling to contain the spread of covid-19 among patients, with staff growing increasingly concerned about becoming exposed to the virus themselves due to shortages of personal protective equipment.

Riverside County officials say they do not yet know why many of Magnolia’s staff members stopped reporting for duty. As of Wednesday, Kaiser said his office had not received any complaints from the staff about working conditions at the 90-bed center, which bills itself as “one of the finest skilled nursing facilities in Riverside, California.”

But no matter how justified the reasoning may be, Kaiser said he is concerned that the employees’ actions “could rise to the level of abandonment.”

“Nationwide, all of our health-care workers are considered heroes, and they rightly are,” he said. “But implicit in that heroism is that people stay at their posts.”

Officials learned something was amiss Monday when they received a notice that the Riverside facility “had made a large staffing request for the next day which was considered an unusual event,” Kaiser said. The request came just days after testing confirmed an outbreak of covid-19 at the center.

Upon contacting the nursing home, Kaiser said he was informed that a “substantial portion” of employees had not come in for their shifts.

On Tuesday, only one certified nursing assistant out of the 13 scheduled to work showed up, which prompted facilities nearby to send more than 30 of their own nurses to the center, according to a news release from the county.

The staffing problem persisted into Wednesday morning, Kaiser said at the news conference, leaving him with no choice but to order the evacuation “to safeguard the well-being of the residents and ensure appropriate continuity of care.” According to the most recent figures, Riverside County has 1,179 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 32 reported deaths.

Bruce Barton, director of the county’s emergency management department, told reporters that Wednesday’s operation involved 53 ambulances as well as assistance from the fire department and police.

The Southern California county isn’t alone in its struggles to care for its vulnerable residents amid the pandemic.

Since the coronavirus reached the United States, reports of nursing homes and eldercare facilities becoming overwhelmed by outbreaks have surfaced regularly.

Last month, a senior-care center in New Jersey relocated all 94 of its residents following a covid-19 outbreak that also sickened several workers, causing critical staffing shortages. Meanwhile, the CEO of a company running several eldercare facilities in New York, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, started advising family members to take their loved ones home if possible, NBC News reported this month.

The Seattle Times reported Wednesday that at least 137 long-term-care facilities in Washington state had residents test positive for the virus. More than 200 deaths have been linked to them, according to the Times, about half the total fatalities in the state from covid-19.

On Wednesday, as patients from the Riverside center were still waiting to be transported, Barton issued a plea to health-care workers for assistance.

“We are in immediate need for help to care for our most vulnerable patients,” he said. “We will provide full PPE. We will pay you and provide malpractice. The facilities you work in will be clean. We have an amazing team that is working on this night and day. Please come join us.”