The Great Resignation

We like labels. In this case, our current labor market dynamic has been called “The Great Resignation”. This article explores the current resignation phenomenon, providing great insight into why it is happening. There are several survey results presented via The Conference Board’s latest workforce survey. The high-level theme from the survey is that although it’s a culmination of a multitude of factors, employees are seizing this moment of leverage. But, as the article states, it’s also about workers’ pursuit of flexibility and autonomy.

Despite decades in the office, baby boomers are quitting for the option to work from anywhere – and at nearly twice the rate of their younger colleagues. Baby boomers quit for the ability to work from anywhere at nearly twice the rate of Gen Xers and millennials:

Baby boomers: 17%
Gen X: 9%
Millennials: 9%

Robby Brumberg – Why workers will continue to quit in droves

Yet another example of COVID-19 accelerating a phenomenon that was lying beneath the surface for the casual observer. In the book The Great Demographic Reversal authors Charles Goodhart and Manoj Pradhan describe several forces and their influence on the last thirty years of economic activity – primarily globalization and demographics. This thirty-year period was deflationary, which was driven in part by a labor supply shock. The authors see those forces reversing – and our current experience is one indication that they may be right. They do however state several times that their findings are controversial and counter to the views of mainstream economists. The conclusion (a hotly debated one) per the authors is that the future is one of:

  • Inflation
  • A fall in working age population
  • An aging society that struggles with the ravages of dementia
  • Declining growth of real output
  • An increase in labor’s bargaining power
  • Possible interest rate increases
  • Increased health expenses
  • A reduction in inequality

Staying true to my belief that we cannot predict the future, we can only rehearse it, these conclusions are a point-in-time view of a possible future. One that is supported by several key signals – and COVID-19 helped to illuminate them.

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