COVID & Unemployment

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

Erika Beras Sep 16, 2020
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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
Heard on:
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

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

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