Amazing to read that over 4 million Americans quit their jobs in September – part of a mass layoff of labor called the Great Resignation. The social and economic chaos triggered by COVID-19 has apparently mixed pre-pandemic assumptions.
Many of the jobs leaving the job have used the downtime to recreate what they want out of life, concluding that “the work no longer fits into that picture,” Barron reports.
Where is this going? The answer depends on what the retirees did before resigning. Most people probably do not plan to permanently delete paid work from their future, but rather to take something personally free. Best placed to try the free time are those who kept their pay during the shutdowns.
Others working in the front line may quit exhaustion. We are talking about healthcare professionals who are charged with treating thousands of dying patients. Or retail workers forced to confront mentally unbalanced shoppers throwing tantrums over mask mandates.
The same goes for stewardesses who had to deal with ugly, crazy passengers. Those who stayed on the job deserve a medal for bravery, but it is understandable that some of their colleagues turned in their wings.
After a rest, many of these burnout cases can slip back into the world of work. Some may have seen that the shortage of labor reduces the risk of temporary unemployment. They figured they could always get a job when the money ran out.
It is true that many of us learned how to settle for less. But settling for less is not the same as living on nothing. And Americans in general have not shown a genius for financial planning.
About 51% have less than three months of emergency savings, according to the website Bankrate. For those with only three months ’worth stopping in September, the clock runs out in December.
Some Americans are reportedly moving their retirement up a few years. As for those we hear about with plans to retire at the age of 55, one has to ask: Who the hell are they? Heirs? Lucky technicians? Survivalists?
These orphanages may lack the assets normally prescribed for dependents who choose a standard retirement age. After all, a couple leaving the workforce at 65 may need $ 300,000 just to cover health care costs, Fidelity estimates.
A pension adviser revealed to Barron’s what he has to tell some customers seeking an early exit: “This is not going to work unless you plan to live after 75.” As life expectancy grows, he warns people themselves in the late 60s to amass savings enough to last for 30 years.
This is not to dismiss the value of using the Great Resignation to reassess its priorities. Many of us experienced the sweetness of more time at home with homemade meals, simple wardrobes and no commuting.
But the work lies in the American DNA. An Italian friend once asked me why Rockefellers work. I replied that in our culture, people find dignity in work.
In 1883, Theodore Roosevelt gave up his soft life in New York to carry out brutal ranch work in the North Dakota Badlands. “The absolute best price that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work that is worth doing,” he said, not surprisingly.
It also has psychological benefits to have a place outside the home to socialize, such as an office. One way to stay grounded in others, it averts loneliness, which can lead to anxiety and depression.
But Americans also need the money – though not as much as they once thought. The benefits of a job that does not crush the soul plus a better handle on expenses could be the lovely flower that grows out of The Great Resignation.
Froma Harrop is a syndicated columnist.