There’s a wild card in the push to return to pre-pandemic life: Many workers don’t want to go back to the jobs they once had.
Layoffs and lockdowns, combined with enhanced unemployment benefits and stimulus checks, gave many Americans the time and the financial cushion to rethink their careers. Their former employers are hiring again — and some, like Uber and McDonald's, are offering higher pay — but workers remain hesitant.
Heidi Shierholz, a senior economist who researches low- and middle-income workers with the Economic Policy Institute, said health concerns and child care responsibilities seem to be the main reasons holding workers back.
In April, she said, at least 25% of U.S. schools weren't offering in-person learning, forcing many parents to stay home. And health concerns could gain new urgency for some workers now that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks in most settings.
Shierholz added that unemployment benefits are designed to give workers the time to find jobs that are better suited to their abilities.
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