CHARLOTTE, N.C. — At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, jobs were lost and financial difficulties were faced by families across the country. But amid the chaos, people who found themselves unemployed were looking at their options and asking important questions: Is this a chance to restart a career? Switch paths? Strike out on one's own?
As the pandemic starts moving to the endemic phase, businesses are now looking for new hires, often offering a myriad of perks and bonuses. But if the employees were facing hard times at the onset, personal finance website WalletHub aptly notes the shoe is now on the other foot for employers.
Adam McCann reports businesses are facing the "Great Resignation" as they struggle to hire enough workers and keep the ones they already have in what's been deemed the slowest recovery of any recession since World War II. The impacts of this are felt across the board, from delays in services to reduced business hours.
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But which states are struggling the most? Which ones are faring better than others? And where do the Carolinas fall? WalletHub compiled a map to show this by analyzing the percentage of job openings in each state and the District of Columbia compared to the percentage of job openings within the last year.
The state struggling the most right now: Alaska. In the latest month that WalletHub has data for The Last Frontier, the job openings rate was 8.4%. That's up from 8.14% within the last year.
South Carolina is barely within the top 10 states where employers are struggling to get new hires; the job openings rate in the latest month was 6.8%. The silver lining for the Palmetto State is that rate is down from the 12-month rate WalletHub cites: 7.24%.
Meanwhile, North Carolina just missed the top 10 by one slot, coming in at 11th on the list. The latest month's job openings rate in the Tar Heel state was at an even 7%, slightly up from the 12-month rate of 6.83%.
Meanwhile, DC and Washington state both are facing the least amount of struggle; DC's job opening percentage from the latest month was 4.10% compared to the 12-month 4.79% rate, while Washington state's latest month rate was 5% compared to the 12-month 5.69% rate. Other states doing well include Delaware, New York, Kansas, Connecticut, California, Texas, Arkansas, and Illinois.
While the hiring scene is rough for employers now, it may not be all bad news. WalletHub spoke with a panel of nine economic experts who offered their own takes on what this could mean for the job market in 2022. Rochelle Parks-Yancy, a full professor of management at Texas Southern University, said employees are responding to lessons learned during the pandemic.
"Some employees may have believed that they 'couldn't' change jobs or change careers due to their own fears, as well practical entry barriers. The pandemic caused many people to engage in career pivots," she said.
Stephanie Luce, a professor in the School of Labor and Urban Studies at City University of New York, told WalletHub businesses are also having their own wake-up call, and they'll need to adapt accordingly.
"Employment conditions have been deteriorating for decades, leading to massive growth in what we can call 'bad jobs' - those with low pay, irregular schedules, no benefits, no career ladder, and often unsafe working conditions," she said. "Some employers were hiring too many workers and making them compete against one another to get shifts. Other employers were not hiring enough workers and then requiring forced overtime. Large retail and food chains adopted a 'customer is always right' approach that left the worker vulnerable to customer abuse. Some workers have found that when they try to improve conditions or form a union they are quickly punished or even fired."
For Luce, there's no easy or quick way to re-balance the labor market, and businesses will have to adapt as will laws.
"Policymakers have spent decades changing laws in ways that give corporations undue power. This will all take time to fix," she said.
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