Living on a Prayer

As of Aug. 28, 2021, there were 2.8 million unemployment claims in the U.S. That’s considerably higher than the pre-pandemic level of 1.7 million, but much improved from the pandemic high of more than 23 million in May 2020.1

One of the more remarkable surprises to emerge from the pandemic is how many people are no longer willing to go back to their jobs or get a new one. Whether they’re getting higher pay from unemployment benefits or figure they’ll wing it on their own for a while, many Americans have decided not to go back to work during the jobs recovery.

This has been especially profound for health care workers who’ve been quitting due to burnout from treating COVID patients.2 But there are other stories as well. When schools and daycare centers shut down, some working moms scaled back their hours or quit their jobs — in many cases because trying to work from home while simultaneously caring for young children proved impossible. With school starting back this fall, it remains to be seen whether many plan to get back into the workforce.3

Traditionally, the employment quit rate tends to decline as the unemployment rate rises, as most people feel lucky to still have a job. But that trend hasn’t borne out during this latest crisis. This time around the quit rate soared to 2.8% — the highest level on record — in April 2021, when the unemployment rate was still at 6.1%, which was well above pre-pandemic levels.4

It’s important to align household income with household needs. For example, some budgets require two working parents while, in other situations, it makes more sense for one parent to stay home. Feel free to contact us for a review to find out if your family has enough insurance to meet your household needs.

It’s difficult to understand why people would quit their job in the middle of a pandemic. After all, inflation is on the rise — especially housing rates. People who live alone have it the worst. According to a calculator developed by MIT, the following is a sample of how much a single person must earn to pay for basic living expenses (food, health care, housing, transportation, taxes and other necessities) in various states across the country.5 For reference, note that the annual income at $15.00 an hour = $31,200:

  • Alabama: $28,652
  • Alaska: $31,333
  • California: $38,823
  • Connecticut: $33,240
  • Hawaii: $40,412
  • Iowa: $28,327
  • Louisiana: $29,251
  • Nebraska: $28,234
  • New York (state): $38,719
  • Washington: $33,982

Some folks are quitting jobs because they want to find another way to make a living. That’s an interesting prospect because a recent Kelly survey found that most employers believe workers need to improve their skills. Today, about 80% of supervisors say employees need more education, credentials, or training — and 73% of workers say they’re willing to pursue upskilling opportunities offered by companies. This opens the door for many of the frustrated workforce, even those without a college degree if they are interested in learning new skills.6 Moving forward, filling those empty jobs currently available may require more “learn while you earn” effort and patience by employers.7

1 USA Facts. Aug. 28, 2021. “COVID-19 Recovery Indicators.” Accessed Sept. 15, 2021.
2 Madeline Holcombe, Erica Hill and Laura Dolan. CNN. Aug. 26, 2021. “’I think we already broke’: Mississippi’s nurses are resigning to protect themselves from Covid-19 burnout.” Accessed Aug. 26, 2021.
3 Megan Cassella. Politico. July 22, 2021. “The pandemic drove women out of the workforce. Will they come back?” Accessed Sept. 15, 2021.
4 USA Facts. Aug. 19, 2021. “More Americans are quitting their jobs. Here are the industries and states impacted.” Accessed Aug. 26, 2021.
5 Francisco Velasquez. CNBC. Aug. 25, 2021. “How much money a single person needs to earn to get by in every U.S. state.” Accessed Aug. 26, 2021.
Kelly Services Inc. April 9, 2021. “Work of the future: How upskilling charts the course.” Accessed Sept. 15, 2021.
7 Jamie Merisotis. Medium. Aug. 26, 2021. “Is America’s Workforce Ready for a Tsunami of Skilled Jobs?” Accessed Aug. 26, 2021.
We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.
The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions.
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