By: Roy Douglas Malonson
As millions of Americans are jumping on the bandwagon of quitting their jobs in what is being called the “Great Resignation,” we want you to understand that while it sounds empowering, it is not as easy for Black Americans as the mainstream media headlines may want you to believe.
While entrepreneurship and small business grants supporting Black-owned businesses are on the rise, we African Americans pale in comparison (no pun intended) to whites in having the equitable resources needed to tell an employer to “take this job and shove it” because the lights need to stay on, and food still needs to be put on the table.
In August 2021 alone, nearly 4.3 million Americans walked away from their jobs, and the quitting rate rose to 2.9 percent that month.
The unemployment rate among African Americans saw the biggest drop from August to September when compared to other racial groups.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports in September 2021, African American unemployment rate dropped from 8.8 percent to 7.9 percent. Asian unemployment dropped from 4.6 percent to 4.2 percent, white unemployment dropped from 4.5 percent to 4.2 percent, and Hispanic unemployment rate dropped from 6.4 percent to 6.3 percent.
Employers posted 10.6 million job openings, down from a near-record 11 million the previous month. Openings have now topped 10 million for six straight months.
Economists said the decline was fueled by a drop of 261,000 openings in restaurants and hotels, leaving a whopping 1.5 available jobs for each unemployed person, the most on record dating back two decades.
When the pandemic first hit, many in the restaurant industry were forced to leave their jobs after eateries – due to lack of customers – had to close. Many of the workers filed for unemployment and with the increased temporary benefits oftentimes totaling what they were used to making at work, many decided not to return to their previous jobs when the doors re-opened.
Houston business owner Michael Moore said 99.5 percent of his people stayed with him. The other small percent he had to fire for different reasons.
And while businesses are re-opening and unemployment rates are dropping, the mental health and overall happiness of employees is becoming the focal point.
The pandemic has caused many workers to rethink how they will earn a living. Headlines are showing glowing images of people claiming to be taking control of their lives and starting new endeavors, and some speculate Black workers may stand to gain the most at a time when diversity efforts soar among companies. But not so fast, while we do stand to gain the most, doesn’t mean we will ever get there.
Those who have been fortunate enough to work remotely boast of their newfound freedoms, avoiding traffic delays and enhancing their work-life balance with improved household upkeep and rearing children. But what about those who don’t have those liberties? Let us not forget the essential workers, the first responders, those in the retail, food and hospitality industries, those in city jobs and public service. What about them? Are they part of this “Great Resignation” that could be more of a phantom than a reality?
Moore says he believes the “Great Resignation” is nothing more than a hoax.
“A lot of people took those PPP loans, some of them not having legitimate businesses, and opened businesses on paper that do not exist or won’t survive. That gave some a false sense of security into thinking they made it,” Moore said. “You start living a lifestyle you never had before, then all of a sudden, it dries up and that taste you had in your mouth is gone. Now, the government is tripling the cost of food and goods to force you to get back to work. Now you have what you see today; people robbing and killing each other.”
While all sectors of the job market are feeling the effects of people quitting, the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics points to the food and service industry, wholesale trade and education industries for seeing the most people quitting. Many people are, frankly, expressing “burnout.”
Others are citing “racial reckoning” as a reason for quitting, left “woke” on a whole new level following the murder of George Floyd. But while many Blacks saying they are tired of dealing with discrimination at their jobs, even with the newly installed “Diversity, Equity and
Inclusion” teams companies are adding, things are not entirely better.
So where does that leave us? Stuck in the same situations, unable to leave and praying for better days.
Now don’t get us wrong, there are many Blacks joining in on the “Great Resignation,” but not in the sweeping droves as others. Face it, many African Americans are still not in the financial position to take pay cuts, start up their own businesses and/ or retire early to travel the world.
Will we get there? Yes.
Will our true days of reckoning and resignations eventually come? Yes.
We just want you to be realistic and don’t believe the hype. The headlines you see on the national “posts” and “business journal” newspapers are not always taking “our people” into consideration.
Simply look around or take a poll of your friends and family members. How many do you know that have “walked away from it all,” or even “switched jobs” during this pandemic – without being forced to due to layoffs.
Let’s keep moving forward to get us to the finish line. Save money, seek education – not just college but trade schools as well, build up our communities, join together, support Black-owned businesses, invest in property and cultivate your land – farming is not a thing of the past. Think about it – when you are an OWNER – you are not looking to RESIGN. And when we strengthen our communities, we will strengthen our overall mental health and our children’s futures.
Without fear or favor, we give it to you like it is.
Just sharing our observations on the “Great Resignation.”