The great resignation and Sullivan County

By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 3/29/22

MONTICELLO, NY — Unless you’ve been job-hunting under a rock, you have probably seen the effects of the Great Resignation, which has left employers desperate for help.

It’s …

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The great resignation and Sullivan County

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MONTICELLO, NY — Unless you’ve been job-hunting under a rock, you have probably seen the effects of the Great Resignation, which has left employers desperate for help.

It’s happened here too, of course. Help-wanted signs are everywhere. Contractors and auto-repair folks are behind, because they don’t have enough workers. For the first time in decades, job-seekers are in a position to be choosy.

What’s happening in Sullivan County?

“It’s difficult to get data at this level,” said Laura Quigley, commissioner of the county’s community resources division. But “there’s not an industry that’s not been affected.”

Year-over-year, hospitality, for example, has created 700 jobs. Many go unfilled.

“Truck driving, nursing, cooks, mechanics, HVAC, construction,” she said. All want to hire.

Which is not to say that the unemployed don’t have reason. “Women have been hurt—they have children at home or they’re caring for family members. Some have just figured out how to survive” on the income from another family member, Quigley said. “Eldercare has increased significantly.”

People are also exploring entrepreneurship in a way they hadn’t before. A toxic work culture, job insecurity, lack of recognition and a poor response to COVID-19 have all been reasons for people to quit, writes Jessica Stillman in Inc. They want to work, but they also want to be more in control of their lives.

Quigley is seeing county employers becoming flexible, “helping people maintain the work-life balance,” she said.

Some have raised wages, she added, “but job-seekers have to understand that a business has to be run. It’s got to be a partnership” as employers and employees try to find middle ground.

Is automation a threat? “That’s a massive expense,” she said. “Supply chain issues remain,” so it’s hard to get equipment.

Maybe that’s just as well. Often the first-time jobs, like cashiers, are the ones to automate. Consider all the self-checkout lines. That’s a cashier out of work, and a first-time job—with the invaluable customer-service experience a person gets—that won’t be available.

What’s in the future for the county? There are the small businesses that keep the place humming, and possibly high-tech jobs. Do we have the workforce for that?

“We have a workforce that can be trained,” Quigley said. Partnerships with SUNY Sullivan and technology colleges help with that. “Business just needs to give the lead time.”

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