Welcome to the Great Resignation.
Amid a flurry of job openings across the U.S., workers are quitting their jobs en masse.
A record 4 million people quit their jobs in April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And many others are considering joining them. In a recent poll of 649 employed workers, Monster found that 95% were considering quitting their jobs and 92% were willing to switch industries for a new role.
just quit my job, best feeling in the world, can i get an amen— alli perez (@LilAFrxmThePack) July 1, 2021
Going back to the office makes we want to quit my job— ✚✖ (0%) (@mariatellaa) July 2, 2021
Jacqueline Moreno, 22, quit her sales job in the Austin office of a publicly traded financial advisory firm on June 8, despite not having a new job lined up. She had accepted the position after graduating from Texas State University with a degree in public relations in the early months of the pandemic. But she found the role wasn't a good fit. Her starting position as a contractor routinely had her working 55 to 60 hours a week, and she struggled to make ends meet, applying for food stamps. "I want to be happy and not dread going to work," she said.
Moreno's not alone. Workers are looking for better pay, remote options and work-life balance. Some have built up a financial safety net with stimulus payments that allows them to spend time between jobs. Others are worried about workplace safety given the lingering pandemic, and many are burnt out or acting on pent-up frustrations.
"Combined, higher employee burnout and enhanced financial security is a recipe for increased resignations," Anthony Klotz, an associate professor of management at Texas A&M University, wrote in a May 30 opinion piece for NBC News.
The labor market is also hot, which means workers feel confident they will be able to find a new and better job. "Whenever openings are higher, quits are higher," according to the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
Before quitting, Moreno spent about a month clandestinely applying for jobs in the public relations and communications sector. She has received two offers but turned them down. "There's a lot of job openings," she said. "I just want to make sure I'm finding a really good fit, long term."
Employers in Austin and around the country are offering higher wages and improved benefits in an effort to recruit and retain workers.
- P. Terry's and JuiceLand recently raised their wages, the latter in response to an ongoing worker strike.
- The median pay for Austin Uber drivers is $33 an hour, before tips, according to the company's first-quarter earnings call in May.
- Local startup Dosh debuted Dosh Days—a surprise, company-wide Friday off.
- Dell Technologies, one of the metro's largest employers, already offered remote work options before the pandemic and continues to encourage flexibility.
Still companies are contending with a worsening labor shortage, which spans industries and predates the pandemic, leaving job seekers with the upper hand. The average lowest wage a worker without a college degree would be willing to accept for a new job is now $61,482, an all-time high, according to the New York Fed's latest labor market survey. For college graduates, the average lowest wage is $86,460.
If unemployed workers flood into the labor market in search of new jobs, it could turn the tide. Texas opted out of all federal unemployment assistance programs on June 26, months earlier than the expected cutoff in early September. Gov. Greg Abbott cited the current number of job openings and potentially fraudulent unemployment claims as reasons for the decision.
But other factors could prolong the Great Resignation, including COVID fears and care responsibilities. A recent study by the Austin-based jobs site Indeed found that only 10% of people between 18 and 64 were urgently searching for work. And job searches remain muted in around half of the states that opted out of federal unemployment benefits.
Moreno is optimistic about the Austin jobs market. "I have no regrets at all," she said of quitting. "I think I made the right decision completely."
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By Jonathan Lee
The Planning Commission was split Tuesday on whether to help save an eclectic lakefront estate from demolition by zoning it historic amid concerns over tax breaks and the likelihood that a previous owner participated in segregation as a business owner.
The property in question, known as the Delisle House, is located at 2002 Scenic Drive in Tarrytown. The main house, with Spanish and Modern influences, was built in 1923 by Raymond Delisle, an optician. A Gothic Revival accessory apartment was built in 1946. The current owner applied to demolish the structures in order to build a new home.'
Historic preservationists, for their part, overwhelmingly support historic zoning, which would preserve the buildings in perpetuity. The Historic Landmark Commission unanimously voted to initiate historic zoning in July, citing architectural significance, landscape features and association to historic figures. City staffers recommend historic zoning, calling both structures one-of-a-kind examples of vernacular architecture.
Tarrytown neighbors have also banded together to stop the demolition. Many have written letters, and a few spoke at the meeting. “How could anyone buy this property with the intent of destroying it?” Ila Falvey said. “I think it’s an architectural treasure.”
Michael Whellan, an attorney representing the property owner, said that the claims made by preservationists are shaky. The buildings are run down, he said, and have had substantial renovations. A structural engineer hired by the owner said any attempt at preservation would involve tearing down and rebuilding – an undertaking Whellan said would likely cost millions.
Whellan also argued that any historical significance derived from the property’s association with Delisle and longtime owner C.H. Slator is dubious. “These men are not noted for any civic, philanthropic or historic impact,” he said.
What’s more, according to Whellan, Slator likely participated in segregation as the owner of the Tavern on North Lamar Boulevard between 1953 and 1960.
A city staffer, however, said she found no evidence to support the claim. “We would never landmark a property where a segregationist lived, or there was a racist person,” Kimberly Collins with the Historic Preservation Office said.
Commissioner Awais Azhar couldn’t support historic zoning in part due to lingering uncertainty about Slator. “Focusing on that factor is not here to disparage an individual or family. It is not about playing the race card. This is an important assertion for us to consider as Planning commissioners,” Azhar said.
Commissioner Carmen Llanes Pulido said that allegations of racism should come as no surprise. “We’re talking about white male property owners in the 1950s, in Austin, on the west side – and of course they were racist,” she said. But she argued that allowing the house to be demolished based on these grounds does nothing to help people of color who have been harmed by racism and segregation.
The question of tax breaks was also controversial. Michael Gaudini, representing the property owner, said that the tax breaks associated with historic zoning would exacerbate inequality by shifting property tax burdens to less affluent communities. City staffers estimate that the property, appraised at $3.5 million, would get either a $8,500 or $16,107 property tax break annually, depending on whether a homestead exemption is applied.
Commissioner Grayson Cox preferred the commission focus not on tax breaks but on whether the structures merit preservation. “To me, nothing in the historic preservation criteria lists, is this person deserving of a tax break or not?”
Azhar, on the other hand, said he plans to propose a code amendment getting rid of city property tax breaks for historic properties.
The commission fell one vote short of recommending historic zoning, with six commissioners in support and three opposed. Azhar and commissioners Claire Hempel and Greg Anderson voted against.
The odds of City Council zoning over an owner’s wishes are slim. Nine out of 11 members must vote in favor, and there have only been a handful of such cases over the past several decades.
What's new in Austin food & drink this week:
- Nau's Enfield Drug closing after losing their lease. Did McGuire Moorman Lambert buy the building, with its vintage soda fountain?
- Nixta Taqueria Chef Edgar Rico named to Time Magazine's Time 100 Next influencer list, after winning a James Beard Award earlier this year.
- Question: From what BBQ joint did pescatarian Harry Styles order food this week?
- Austin Motel is opening the pool and pool bar Wednesday nights in October for Freaky Floats.
- Vincent's on the Lake closing due to "economic conditions and low water levels [at Lake Travis]."
- Cenote has closed its Windsor Park location. The East Cesar Chavez location remains open.
- The Steeping Room on N. Lamar has closed.
- Local startup It's Skinny scored new financing for its gluten-free pasta business.
- P. Terry's opened a new location in Kyle, at 18940 IH-35.