Photo: Leonardo Munoz/VIEWpress
After four years with the New York City Department of Education, Humberto Cruz-Chavarria quit his job in July. “I loved my job,” he said, referring to his position as multilingual education manager with the DOE’s Early Childhood Education Division. But he began to believe that his best financial decision would be to find a new job. He watched union dues and out-of-pocket insurance costs eat up more of every paycheck, and he worried his government salary wouldn’t keep up with inflation. (There were intangibles, too—he wasn’t a big fan of the new mayor.) His job search paid off: When he started his new job at an educational nonprofit, he got a 15% pay raise, along with other perks and benefits. who sealed the deal. The ability to work from home meant he wasn’t so anxious about the violence on the subway and could spend around half an hour every morning walking his dog before starting work in the morning. “I feel like I have a comfortable life in New York,” he told me. “Not only because of my raise, but also, my current employer has better benefits than what I got through New York City.”
This is what it looks like during the last days of the Great Resignation. Unemployment is near an all-time low, job vacancies are near an all-time high, and wages have been remarkably strong — all good things for employees considering a job change. People who switch employers not only get higher pay, but they get pandemic-era (and worker-friendly) benefits as companies begin to show strength for the first time since the start of the pandemic. But before long, something will probably have to give. The Federal Reserve plans to continue to slow the economy – usually not good for the job market – by raising interest rates in an effort to keep inflation under control. Meanwhile, that same inflation is driving up the cost of living, with no end in sight. This means that the number of available jobs may soon begin to dry up, wages may become less competitive, and the balance of power will shift to the people who make hiring decisions and set salary levels. Which is to say, anyone considering a job change might want to act fast.
Among the grim legacies of 2022 is the fact that this will be the year inflation explodes. In June, prices were about 9.1% higher than they were 12 months earlier, but even that 40-year rise has obscured just how much more expensive things like gas and groceries became more expensive. Something else happened as well: people started noticing that their friends and co-workers were all getting new jobs, and that employers were giving in not only on wages, but also on the kinds of benefits that made life and work an act of hellish balancing act. “I started looking around and seeing places that paid better, and also had better benefits and allowed you to have more flexibility – which is the huge thing now that everyone is looking for,” said said Julia Craft, who started her new job in July as a barber at Hairrari in the East Village. Now, not only does she earn about 15-20% more on a slow week than she did at her last job, but she has more flexibility in her shifts.
Amid the good news announced by the Labor Department last week was this stark statistic: About 4 million people had quit their jobs — usually to get one that pays more or has better benefits. It’s about the sixth month in a row that the statistic has been this high, even as the economy edges closer to a possible recession. It makes sense: given that annual inflation has remained above 8%, changing jobs remains the best way for most people to increase their income. While the average pay rate has climbed 6.3% over the past three months, those who have changed jobs have seen their wages increase by nearly 8% over the same period, according to the Federal Reserve Bank. from Atlanta. And now still appears to be a good time to do so, with the government reporting an increase in current vacancies to around 10.7 million.
Even though the pandemic economy is long over, with masks removed and most businesses returning to pre-pandemic normalcy, the psychological effects of the COVID era are still shaping the job market. What’s the point of staying in a job that can’t make your life look the way you want it to? “If it hadn’t been for the pandemic, my loyalty would have kept me there a little longer,” said Craft, who also works for a concert hall in Brooklyn and sells pinned bugs to collectors. . “After the pandemic and seeing that other part of life, where you can live your life and be comfortable instead of constantly chasing money, it really changed my perspective on everything in life. Look no further than consultant McKinsey to point out that this is a widely held belief. This bears out in a number of ways: only about half of New York offices were occupied in September, according to Comptroller Brad Lander’s office, and subway usage is still well below the post-pandemic peak reached last December, before the Omicron variant of COVID. -19 emerged.
A question hangs over these good times for job seekers: how long can it last? LinkedIn data shows that workers are more comfortable quitting than ever before, with a 10% increase in the number of people leaving their jobs after less than a year. And the data shows that this practice extends beyond the service and hospitality industry, which initially led to the Great Resignation. Now, people working in arts, technology, and administration are the ones who are dropping out in droves. Yet the best days for those changing jobs may already be in the rearview mirror. According to the Atlanta Fed, wage gains peaked in July, and while they’re still up about 5%, they’ve been falling for months. “I think we’re past the peak,” LinkedIn chief economist Guy Berger told me. “The question is how much will it go down before the Fed says we’re on the right track, and maybe even mission accomplished, on what they’re trying to do?”