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COVID & Unemployment

For some, it may make more sense at this moment to quit a job

Erika Beras Sep 16, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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Some people are quitting jobs because it's too dangerous to work during the pandemic. Al Bello/Getty Images
COVID & Unemployment

For some, it may make more sense at this moment to quit a job

Erika Beras Sep 16, 2020
Some people are quitting jobs because it's too dangerous to work during the pandemic. Al Bello/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

There were some new data from the Labor Department last week: The number of people voluntarily quitting their jobs increased by 344,000 to 2.9 million in July.

Often a high quit rate means unemployment is low and people feel confident that they can find a better job. But with the pandemic, even though unemployment is high, things are different.

“Gaps in resumes now are much more understandable than they might have been in the past,” said Matthew Slaughter, an economist at Dartmouth. 

The Labor Department says retail workers made up about half of those leaving their jobs voluntarily in July. They may have health concerns because of COVID-19, according to Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute. 

“There may be people who are voluntarily quitting, because it’s just not safe for them to have a job right now,” she said.

Or they may need to take care of their kids, said Beth Humberd, a management professor at UMass Lowell. Because so many kids are home, “it’s out of necessity to manage the working family conundrum.”

And that choice may be falling disproportionately on women. Their participation rate in the labor market has dropped during the pandemic

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What are the details of President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief plan?

The $1.9 trillion plan would aim to speed up the vaccine rollout and provide financial help to individuals, states and local governments and businesses. Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, while advancing his objective of reopening most schools by the spring. It would also include $1,400 checks for most Americans. Get the rest of the specifics here.

What kind of help can small businesses get right now?

A new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans recently became available for pandemic-ravaged businesses. These loans don’t have to be paid back if rules are met. Right now, loans are open for first-time applicants. And the application has to go through community banking organizations — no big banks, for now, at least. This rollout is designed to help business owners who couldn’t get a PPP loan before.

What does the hiring situation in the U.S. look like as we enter the new year?

New data on job openings and postings provide a glimpse of what to expect in the job market in the coming weeks and months. This time of year typically sees a spike in hiring and job-search activity, says Jill Chapman with Insperity, a recruiting services firm. But that kind of optimistic planning for the future isn’t really the vibe these days. Job postings have been lagging on the job search site Indeed. Listings were down about 11% in December compared to a year earlier.

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