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Many workers who have changed since the epidemic will not return to their old jobs

There is a wild card at the promotion site to return to pre-epidemic life. Many employees do not want to return to their former jobs.

Dismissals, blockades, combined with increased unemployment benefits, incentive checks, gave many Americans a financial boost to reconsider their careers. Their former employers are hiring again; some, like Uber and McDonald’s, are offering higher pay, but employees remain volatile.

Job creation in the United States rose 8% in March to a record 8.1 million, but total employment rose less than 4%, according to the government.

Nate Mullins quit his job as a bartender in November last year after clashing with managers over mask rules, fearing he would spread the coronavirus to his sister, who had damaged his immune system.

Mulins’s unemployment checks do not match what he was preparing at his Oak Harbor in Washington, but they are enough for him to work while he is looking for a job that will provide health and retirement benefits.

“Taking a step back, really thinking about what you are doing, this opportunity really changed my mind,” said Mullins, 36. “It made me think long-term for the first time.”

One of the reasons for the slowdown in US rent in April is workers like Mullins. Employers and business groups claim that the $ 300 a week federal unemployment benefit gives recipients less incentive to look for work. Several states have begun claiming benefits from beneficiaries to show they are actively looking for work, and some will stop providing the supplement.

But Heidi Schierholtz, a senior economist at the Institute for Economic Policy for Low- and Medium-Sized Workers, says health problems and childcare responsibilities seem to be the main reasons for keeping workers away.

In April, he said, at least 25 percent of US schools do not offer personalized education, forcing many parents to stay home. And health concerns for some workers could be a new issue now that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that fully vaccinated people can stop wearing the mask in many conditions.

Schierholtz added that unemployment benefits are designed to give employees time to find work that is more in line with their abilities.

“We want people to be relevant to their skills and experience,” he said. “It helps the economy do better.”

Higher wages could push up inflation, which rose in April as the economy struggled with a widespread shortage of raw materials and reopened earlier than expected. If companies are forced to raise prices to cover the cost of higher wages, it could slow the recovery գն reduce the purchasing power of Americans.

For now, most economists consider the shortage of manpower to be temporary. As more Americans get vaccinated, few will worry about getting sick at work. Schools are due to reopen in September, leaving more parents free to return to work, and an additional $ 300 in unemployment benefits also expires in early September. These steps should bring more people to the job market.

Sarah Weitzel gave birth to her second child in February 2020. He was on leave from work at the Victoria’s Secret store in St. Louis when an epidemic plunged his life into chaos.

He received a text saying that he felt cruel. Then her husband lost his restaurant job. In financial hardship, they sold their home, moved in with friends, survived on unemployment insurance, and went into deeper debt.

In the fall, Victoria’s Secret offered Weitzel a part-time job that paid $ 12 an hour, but she declined. She and her husband, who have been working in a new restaurant for a long time, can not afford to take care of the child.

“It just broke something where I was thinking about how much I was earning for this job, which paid about $ 32,000 a year,” Weitzel said.

Weitzel, 31, has joined the Rung for Women, St. Louis program, which offers career training, training in high-demand jobs, including banking, healthcare, and customer service technology. In the fall, when his eldest daughter starts preschool, Weitzel hopes to get a half-career job in a new career.

Mark Smithivas drove to Uber և Lyft for four years before he abruptly quit his job last spring due to ill health. For the past year, he has conducted technology training courses in the federal staff training program.

Smithivas, 52, has just received his second vaccine, but he does not want to go back to swimming. He is concerned about fraud and other crimes targeting drivers in Chicago, where he lives.

“I always saw this job as temporary, I really want to find something that better fits my career history,” he said.

Some workers say the epidemic has helped them prioritize their mental and physical health.

Throughout her bartender career, 57-year-old Ellen Booth has struggled to lift ice buckets and beer barrels. But without a college education, he felt he had limited opportunities.

When the restaurant where he worked closed last year, he said it was a “necessary blow”. Booth, from Coventry, Rhode Island, took one year to study medical coding. When his unemployment benefit ended two months ago, he started using his pension funds. In the coming weeks, Booth will take a certification exam, after which he will enter the job market.

Shelley Ortiz, 25, loved her restaurant server career. But that all changed last June when his Phoenix restaurant reopened its dining room. He had two masks and goggles to protect himself, but at the same time he was anxious in a restaurant without masked dinners.

He added that sexual harassment would also worsen. Sponsors asked her to drop the mask to see how beautiful she was before throwing it.

Ortiz resigned in July after learning that the restaurant was not thoroughly cleaning the bar after a possible revelation by the bartender. He և his partner, the teacher, cut their expenses, և Ortiz returned to school all the time. She graduated from Glendale Community College this month with a degree in Film and Documentary Directing.

Ortiz stopped receiving unemployment benefits in November when he made several part-time films. Money is scarce, he said, but he has never been happier. And he does not think he will become another restaurant server!

“I do not know if I could do it with a smile,” he said. “I do not think there should be any way for any employee to be treated the same as any other employee in the United States.”

In the narrow labor market, some workers find that if they persevere, they may get a better job than they left behind.

Taryn Henderson worked at Best Buy for six years before being unexpectedly fired in February.

“They did not appreciate the work I did because I quit,” said Henderson, a 24-year-old college student in Austin, Texas. “It simply came to our notice then.

At first, she focused on her schoolwork, living on her unemployment benefits with a և 10-week pay cut. But soon he was looking forward to working again, և he thought that a new job that valued him better would make him feel better.

After a few months of searching, he found another job in the music streaming service. He will start earning $ 10 an hour later this month than the $ 17 he won at Best Buy.

“As long as I make enough money to support myself, the people I love, I can travel from time to time, I’m fine,” Henderson said. “I think this job will allow me to do that.”

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AP Economics writer Christopher Rugaber contributed to this report.

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