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Labor Experts: The Great Resignation Is Actually a Great Reshuffle

February 28, 2022

The quit-rate among Americans reached the highest level in recorded history in fall 2021, which was coined The Great Resignation. Now, a panel of labor experts claims that ‘Resignation” shifted the employee/employer power dynamic and shook up the labor market. It’s been recoined “The Great Reshuffle”.

A panel addressed the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University about how the Great Reshuffle has changed how people work, where they want to work, and what they want from their job.

“The job they were doing has changed in some way or another, and they don’t like it anymore and they go looking for a better match,” said Stephen Woodbury, a Ph.D. economist and economics professor at Michigan State University.

The COVID-19 pandemic cratered the labor market and shook up the workforce across Michigan and the nation, but it was an acceleration of a trend already in the works, according to Woodbury.

Woodbury said one portion of the number of job openings available and the number of workers in the workforce could be a mismatch between what employers want from employees and the skills available in the labor pool.

The Great Reshuffle has impacted several industries more than others: Accommodation and food service 10.2%; health care and social services 8:4%; transportation, warehousing, and utilities 8.1%; professional and business service 8%; nondurable goods manufacturing 7.3%; information 7.2%.

Carrie Rosingana, CEO of Capital Area Michigan Works!, said the changes to the workforce dynamic have shifted. Employees are setting more of the expectations as opposed to the employer. 

She said the unemployment rates are significantly lower, but people are leaving due to COVID-19 policies, cultural shifts, or childcare issues.

“They are looking at: Does the personal culture that they have and what matters to them match up with what they are looking for in an employer?” Rosingana said.

Tony Willis, chief equity development officer with the Lansing Economic Area Partnership, said one of those areas of culture was diversity in the workplace.

“The idea here is to create a stronger and more competitive economy that works for all,” Willis said. “Where ownership and the benefits of economic development are felt by all, not just a selected few.”

He said 38% of Michigan households are at the point where missing one paycheck would be financially devastating, but those numbers jump significantly when looking at Black (60%) and Hispanic (58%) populations in Michigan.

“You can’t save your way out of poverty. Increasing wages is the only way out of that,” Willis said.

Willis said the Great Reshuffle would be an opportunity for people to knock down barriers of diversity in the workplace.

Rosingana said childcare is a massive portion of what is keeping some out of the labor pool and women have been largely impacted by the pandemic.

She said the influx of refugees to areas in Michigan could help fill some of the gaps in the labor market.

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