Retail workers are quitting at record rates for higher-paying work: ‘My life isn’t worth a dead-end

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  1. bnew

    bnew Superstar

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    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/06/21/retail-workers-quitting-jobs/

    Retail workers are quitting at record rates for higher-paying work: ‘My life isn’t worth a dead-end job’


    Some 649,000 employees gave notice in April, the sector’s largest one-month exodus in over 20 years, a reflection of pandemic-era strains and a strengthening job market

    [​IMG]
    A now-hiring sign hangs outside a Target in Highlands Ranch, Colo., earlier this month. The retailer is among those that have raised wages or benefits to attract workers. (David Zalubowski/AP)
    By
    Abha Bhattarai
    June 21, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. UTC
    Retail workers, drained from the pandemic and empowered by a strengthening job market, are leaving jobs like never before.

    Americans are ditching their jobs by the millions, and retail is leading the way with the largest increase in resignations of any sector. Some 649,000 retail workers put in their notice in April, the industry’s largest one-month exodus since the Labor Department began tracking such data more than 20 years ago.


    Some are finding less stressful positions at insurance agencies, marijuana dispensaries, banks and local governments, where their customer service skills are rewarded with higher wages and better benefits. Others are going back to school to learn new trades, or waiting until they are able to secure reliable child care.


    “It was a really dismal time, and it made me realize this isn’t worth it,” said 23-year-old Aislinn Potts of Murfreesboro, Tenn., who left her $11-an-hour job as an aquatic specialist at a national pet chain in April to focus on writing and art. “My life isn’t worth a dead-end job.”


    In interviews with more than a dozen retail workers who recently left their jobs, nearly all said the pandemic introduced new strains to already challenging work: longer hours, understaffed stores, unruly customers and even pay cuts.


    Christina Noles spent much of the pandemic working the closing shift at a dollar store — sometimes nine consecutive days without a break — for $10.25 an hour. She felt isolated, anxious and demoralized.


    Last month, the 34-year-old from Concord, N.C., quit, leaving the industry she’s worked in for most of her adult life. Now she works from home for a local law firm — a job that, three days in, still seems too good to be true.

    “There’s a part of me that feels like this must all be a dream,” Noles said. “There were a lot of things I liked about retail: I love talking to people and helping them, but the pandemic made me realize it was untenable.”


    Labor professors and economists say the pandemic also made it harder for the nation’s 15 million retail workers to find reliable child care and public transportation. But now that life is returning to normal, analysts say, workers have begun to realize they have options, capitalizing on the latest waves of hiring and government stimulus as catalyst for career change. Companies of all sizes, meanwhile, are offering a host of perks, from free appetizers to subsidized college courses, to attract and keep workers.



    “We’re seeing a wider understanding that these were never good jobs and they were never livable jobs,” said Rebecca Givan, a professor of labor studies and employment relations at Rutgers University. “In many cases, the pay is below a living wage and the hours are inconsistent and insufficient. If anything, the pandemic has made retail jobs even less sustainable than they already were.”

    It is too soon to tell, she said, whether the latest exodus reflects a long-term shift away from retail work. Some employees, for example, may return to the industry once child care is more readily available and other pandemic-related challenges ease, but others are turning to industries where workers are in high demand.


    Noles said she began mulling a career change after five colleagues tested positive for the coronavirus late last year. Her lucky break, she said, came on a particularly busy night when the checkout lines snaked to the back of the store. A customer in line, who was charmed by her upbeat nature and impressed that not a single customer left despite the wait, encouraged her to apply for an opening at her law firm. Noles applied in April and, a few weeks later, was offered the job as an intake specialist, earning $13 an hour, plus benefits.



    With much of the country easing pandemic-era restrictions, service establishments like restaurants, gyms and salons are offering better pay and benefits to rebuild the staffs that got gutted during the crisis. Sectors like real estate, professional services, banking and insurance are also hiring — often at higher wages than retail, where median hourly pay for store employees hovers around $13 — in anticipation of renewed demand, according to Julia Pollak, a labor economist for the site ZipRecruiter.

    “In a tight labor market, we often see big shifts among workers with low earnings,” she said. “If you’re making $12 an hour and there’s a job down the street offering $12.50, why not jump? There’s no reason not to — which is what’s happening now.”


    “Hiring now” signs are cropping up on storefronts big and small as retailers scramble to fill openings. Many have raised wages or benefits to keep up. Target, Best Buy, Under Armour and Kay Jewelers all recently increased starting minimums to $15 an hour, while Amazon is offering sign-on bonuses as high as $1,000 to new employees. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)



    Overall, retailers had nearly 1 million job openings in April, more than twice as many as they did a year ago.

    Millions of retail workers were let go — unknowingly permanently — early on in the pandemic as dozens of retailers tumbled into bankruptcy, shuttered locations and sometimes liquidated thousands of stores. The result was a bifurcated industry — with booming business at supermarkets, pharmacies and hardware stores, while spending on clothing and other nonessential items tanked. Now that spending patterns are evening out again, retailers are having to hire accordingly to meet demand.


    Some labor experts, though, say retailers are not going far enough in addressing structural problems in the industry. Retailers, they say, should be focusing more on stable schedules, safer working conditions and benefits like paid sick leave and vacation time.



    During the pandemic, they said, many employees were also forced to take on new responsibilities, often without proper protections or adequate health-care coverage to protect them from illness. And though customers were mindful of safety restrictions early on, workers say that quickly faded, leaving them vulnerable to verbal — and sometimes physical — altercations over social distancing and mask requirements.

    Chris Overland, who sold electronics at a national chain in San Antonio, took a $4-an-hour pay cut during the pandemic before finally deciding to quit last month. The 25-year-old quickly found work in construction.

    “To be getting paid $10 an hour in the middle of a nationwide crisis, it just left a sour taste,” Overland said. “Now I’m doing more physical labor, but it’s better pay and I’m having a lot more fun without the stresses of retail. It feels better, mentally.”


    Jesse Rumpca quit his job at a liquor store last month to become a firefighter for the Oregon Department of Forestry. The 29-year-old, who has a degree in geography and environmental studies, took on retail work in March when most other industries weren’t hiring.



    But as the pandemic wore on, he felt increasingly anxious about getting sick during shifts, sometimes double- or triple-masking. When he found in early May that he hadn’t been informed when a close colleague tested positive for the virus, he quit on the spot.

    “I kept working because I had to pay bills, but it was never going to be a long-term job,” he said.

    Some workers say the pandemic made their jobs logistically difficult, if not near impossible to continue.

    Bob Beall, who is deaf and relies on reading body language and lip movements to communicate, left his position as a manager at a Lowe’s store in Bennington, Ill., at the beginning of the pandemic once mask requirements made it tough to understand customers.


    He dipped into his retirement savings and got an associate’s degree. Now, after a 35-year career in retail, he’s embarking on a new one with a facilities maintenance job for Kohler. He’s taking a 30 percent pay cut and will be working nights, but says he’s hopeful he’s moving into a growing field with ample room to advance without the “mental fatigue” of working in a customer-facing job.

    “I’m making a career change at 56, so I know how this works,” he said. “I start at the bottom and work my way back up.”
     
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  2. ORDER_66

    ORDER_66 Messiah 2020 & Aetheon & K'nuba 2 release

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    Pay them what they worth... shyt makes no sense the CEO doesnt do shyt gets paid millions and millions...:beli:
     
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  3. Gold

    Gold Veteran Supporter

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    This wave has been hitting retail, hotel, restaurants, fastfood, and i'm loving it (pun intended)
    As long as people refuse to take these low paying dead end jobs, the market will be forced to correct.


    If I had a teenage son/daughter, they will not work in retail or fast food. For what? fukk all that
     
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  4. Cereal_Bowl_Assassin

    Cereal_Bowl_Assassin Superstar Supporter

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    Good...I said this in another thread but life isn't about work work work until your dead..its stupid

    Sadly a lot of us haves been brainwashed into thinking that life should be this way
     
  5. Gold

    Gold Veteran Supporter

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    Its as simple as the bolded. I'm completely fine with CEOs making millions btw, but if you cannot replenish your own workforce, all you need to do is offer more money.

    If Bestbuy workers started at 60k, i bet you wouldn't have an issue hiring
     
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  6. Buckeye Fever

    Buckeye Fever Most Slept On West Coast Album EVER Hall of Fame Supporter

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    This will be the thread where some broke clowns will somehow side with the ceo:mjlol:
     
  7. ORDER_66

    ORDER_66 Messiah 2020 & Aetheon & K'nuba 2 release

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    exactly...:ld: companies been greedy, its time to pay up...look at what just happened to american airlines all that shyt they was doing to their workers finally caught up with their ass...:birdman:
     
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  8. Vae Victis

    Vae Victis Veteran

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    Good shyt. Pandemic basically raised the minimum wage in my area atleast. Jobs that would oF had no problem giving you 7.25 an hour pre pandemic are currently starting at 10 trying to draw employees
     
  9. xXMASHERXx

    xXMASHERXx Superstar

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    What's funny is that people would always say that these workers shouldn't get paid more and that they need to get better jobs. Well now they are and you're seeing the effect it's having. I hope this forces all employers to stop taking advantage of their employees and pay them a livable wage.
     
  10. NinoBrown

    NinoBrown Superstar

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    STEMGang doesn't have this problem...
     
  11. Rarely-Wrong Liggins

    Rarely-Wrong Liggins Name another Liggins hot I'm just honest. Staff Member Supporter

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    You'd be surprised how many regular folk have a "pro business" mindset and they aren't even aware of it. Capitalism has the GOAT propaganda/marketing.
     
  12. Seoul Gleou

    Seoul Gleou Superstar

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    COVID is a blessing in disguise. There is no reason for a CEO to make 320 times what the average worker makes.
    There is no reason to earn MORE from being unemployed than actually working.

    But that was a pre-COVID reality. I'm happy it's changing now. Fukk these corporations.

    And the same fakkit politicians that were talking about Main St are nowhere to be found to protect small businesses that hire people and give them a livable wage. They watched those businesses die and bail out mega corporations with enormous tax cuts.
     
  13. Rockstar Mom

    Rockstar Mom PhatGurlSwag

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    As they should!

    $10 is a laughable wage ANYWHERE!! Unless you’re on section 8, $10 will not get you an apartment ANYWHERE!!

    You get up and leave your family for 8+ hrs everyday, you should be paid a livable salary. Period.
     
  14. Tom Foolery

    Tom Foolery You're using way too many napkins. Supporter

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    ‘My life isn’t worth a dead-end job’

    Agreed, fukk them. Bust your ass while the people at the top live in luxury.

    And some Coli fools support wealth inequality. :heh:
     
  15. Deep_Black_Conscious

    Deep_Black_Conscious Superstar

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    yeah by psychopath and sociopath CEOs who work smarter not harder
    if you are smart enough to get people to do the work for you and love it, you won
    life is short have as much fun and excitement as you can while handling your business
    quality of life is fundamental
    the pandemic and working from home opened my eyes
    got to start building my own so I can ease my way out of working for someone else
     
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