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Clark County workers may be part of ‘Great Resignation’ trend

By , Columbian Innovation Editor
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Raoul Campbell-Rouzan of Vancouver packs up his garage while gearing up for his upcoming move to Arizona on Friday morning. A record number of people are quitting their jobs during the pandemic.
Raoul Campbell-Rouzan of Vancouver packs up his garage while gearing up for his upcoming move to Arizona on Friday morning. A record number of people are quitting their jobs during the pandemic. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The remote-work atmosphere of the pandemic left lots of extra time for Raoul Campbell-Rouzan to rethink his career path. As a worker at the Washington State Department of Transportation, he didn’t have the urge of excitement for his job. Although it was steady, the slow burn of his dissatisfaction with his job was too much.

So like millions of Americans in the past few months, Campbell-Rouzan, 35, quit. He is moving to Arizona and plans to travel before finding another career. The pandemic was a catalyst for the decision, he said.

“Honestly, the job was great,” said Campbell-Rouzan. “I had responsibility and the freedom. This big thing for me is I wanted more. I’ve always thought to do something more.”

In July, 3.98 million U.S. workers quit their jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary. In June, 3.87 million quit, and April set a record when 3.99 million people voluntarily left their jobs. They’re the three peak months of the bureau’s records, which date to 2000.

Spanning the country, the new trend is being called the “Great Resignation” or the “Great Attrition.” Although there’s no Clark-County-specific data, it’s certainly happening locally to some degree.

“It is happening here, but I don’t think there’s a way to quantify it,” wrote Sharon Pesut, executive director at Partners in Careers, a local nonprofit that assists people with job training and placement, in an email to The Columbian.

One thing that’s certain is the labor shortage in Clark County, along with the state and the nation. Especially for hospitality industry jobs and lower-wage, in-person jobs, there aren’t enough workers to fill openings. One major factor, the recent end of federal pandemic unemployment insurance programs PEUC and PUA, hasn’t yet been reflected in local data.

For Campbell-Rouzan, his rationale for quitting, selling his Vancouver home and moving away reflects some main findings of a study by McKinsey & Co., a management consultant company. The study’s authors interviewed 5,774 people of working age in Australia, Canada, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the U.S. It stated that 40 percent of respondents are at least somewhat likely to quit their jobs in the next three to six months.

And similar to Campbell-Rouzan, 36 percent of the study’s respondents didn’t have another job lined up when they quit.

The authors of the study stated that “Companies are struggling to address the problem, and many will continue to struggle for one simple reason: They don’t really understand why their employees are leaving in the first place.”

Another study from Harvard Business Review of 9 million employee records from more than 4,000 companies, found that resignation rates were highest among midcareer employees, ages 30-45. It also concluded resignations were highest in technology and health care industries.

Scott Bailey, the Employment Security Department’s regional economist for Southwest Washington, said that it will be a few months until the unemployment statistics for Clark County show how many jobs are open in Vancouver. For now, local employment data hasn’t changed much; Unemployment claims are still being processed.

“There’s no data right now, so it’s going to be anecdotal,” Bailey said.

Although it’s hard to quantify the number of people who are quitting in Clark County, Campbell-Rouzan’s decisions are something that many workers likely have at least mulled over.

“100 percent: The pandemic influenced this decision,” he said. “Having so much time by yourself to think. I thought ‘If I go somewhere else and I failed, it’s better than being stuck in this same day every day.’

“I have no set plan, but I’m waking up feeling good again.”

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