BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November, according to the Department of Labor. Many of them left low-paying jobs like restaurants and hotels. The Capital Region has seen a similar shift in recent months.
Many people left their jobs in search of higher pay, others may have decided to retire.
“Wages on average are up about 3% since the start of the pandemic but inflation has driven up prices by 5%,” said Andrew Fitzgerald, Senior Vice President of Business Intelligence at the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.
With the economy bouncing back there are fewer people searching for work and people are able to make possibly risky career shifts. The Baton Rouge area only has about 14,000 people on unemployment, with over 44,000 jobs open. At the peak of the pandemic in 2020, there were over 60,000 people unemployed in the Capital Region.
Restaurants are a hard-hit industry with this shift in careers. The mom-and-pop shops are not able to compete with the $15 minimum wage in some places. Fitzgerald suggests that some companies will have to look outside the normal people they would consider hiring, such as people in high school or people reentering society from prison.
“The solution really is for employers to engage with their local training providers and as they hire these people [do] on the job training,” Fitzgerald said.
While some incentive programs have already ended Fitzgerald suggests the Child Tax Credit could have been one of the reasons some people may have been able to take a couple of months off of work.
“January is when we’ll see where those quits because people could afford to take two months off because of a government subsidy or were they people who genuinely found higher paying jobs,” Fitzgerald said.
In Washington, the Louisiana delegation is working on how to address the issue. Congressman Garret Graves said potential relief for more specific industries could be a discussion.
“You also have got to get rid of these programs that are incentivizing people to not work by paying them more to not work than they would make by being in the workforce,” Rep. Graves said.
BRAC said of those unemployed right now they don’t completely mesh with the skills needed to fill a lot of the jobs that are open. So new training programs and incentives are expected to launch early this year.