Lake Powell, Utah– Amid cries from hungry babies and Bitcoin bros going broke these last few weeks, you may have missed the report the Bureau of Labor quietly announced on May 3. They reported that 4.5 million people quit their jobs in the first quarter of 2022.
What that means is, just in case you forgot about it, The Great Resignation is still going strong.
And while pundits and prognosticators all want to blame inflation and child care costs for the fact that Americans collectively are saying “take this job and shove it”, the people we spoke with this week say it isn’t about the cash or the kids, it’s about the quality of life.
John Kenton of Ticaboo, Utah was one of the 4.5 million quitters in early 2022. He cut ties with his employer at Lake Powell and found work quickly at the only other major employer in a town of 276 people set at the foot of the Henry Mountains in Southern Utah.
“Look you guys can pay me $20 an hour”, says John, “but if I feel like garbage I’m not gonna sit there and (expletive deleted) work. I took a pay cut to come here because it’s peace of mind.”
Thor Odinsun of Lake Powell, Utah agrees saying, “My niece made more than me on unemployment for her, “part-time job at the zoo” then I made working at the hospital through all this. I’m burnt. I quit the hospital, took six months off, and now I work at a gas station 3 days a week, and I am working on a YouTube career. If anything I have learned that doing what needs to be done, really is just a way of saying that I shouldn’t respect myself & shut up. So why bother working for someone else, when if I do, I am broke as a joke, or if I don’t, I am broke as a joke. I’ll do the minimum to pay the bills & work on myself now.”
Odinsun quit his full-time job in early 2021 when the Great Resignation was just emerging from the clouds of the pandemic. He bought a boat to live on full-time on Lake Powell in the middle of the Southwest desert, launching his YouTube channel called “Explore with Thor”. He just reached a peak subscriber count of 1520 subscribers, which puts him now in a category where he can monetize his channel and derive an income.
Both men agree that money was the major motivator in the days of Gordon Gecko and the idea that Wall Street dividends and a pile of cocaine signaled success. In the wake of the Pandemic, however, the ever sliding quality of life for middle America and a paradigm shift in the idea that work is what you do to survive, but not to live, both men agree that a paycheck will only go so far to motivate an employee these days.
Ann Curcio of The American Job Center recognizes that something is wrong with an economy that screams that they need workers but fails to connect workers with work. Her work as a job coach and employment counselor gives her a unique perspective from both sides of the equation.
“I have been working at the American Job Center for the last 3 years. There are so many stories on both sides. Employers are screaming for help, but the new hiring practices are sabotaging the hiring of people. I experienced this first-hand when I was interviewed on the computer through a robocall. Companies have taken the “human” out of “human resources” and it’s just not the same. I have been an Employment Specialist, Job Developer, Career Counselor, and all things employment for 30+ years. I’ve never seen anything like it.” says Curcio
And maybe that’s just it. The human side of human resources has gone missing under the concept that a paycheck is enough to motivate another human to do things. Kenton thinks so, “ The pay raise was nice, I’m not gonna lie, but the fact that everything got worse after that,… yeah,…they can keep that. Like I said the money was nice but is it really what talks?”
Big Companies and small businesses alike continue to struggle to keep employees and as long as they think a paycheck is enough to keep workers happy they will continue to struggle. The emergence of the Metaverse as an economic powerhouse combined with the idea that now that America has gotten a chance to work from home, a paycheck is cold comfort, which means the Great Resignation will continue.
Fries will go unmade, ice machines will stay empty, and the trash will continue to pile up, all while the pundits and prognosticators continue to say the Great Resignation is a paycheck issue. Perhaps both Wall Street and Main Street will wake up when they realize, they can pour money on the problem, but until they see that the middle American working class is made up of humans who have lives, families, and dreams, we won’t see a change in the tide of employment.
Thumbnail Credits: Christopher German
- Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary – 2022 M03 Results
- John Kenton, Ticaboo, Utah
- Thor Odensun, Lake Powell, Utah
- Ann Curcio, Bridgeport, CT
- John Kenton Interview