From the desk of Willie Delwiche.
The number crunchers are reporting that workers have gone missing. Plenty of jobs are available. But no one is showing up to fill the open positions.
They are calling this phenomenon the Great Resignation.
It makes sense if you’re looking at the situation through the lens of the established system. Folks are dropping out, which means they must be giving up. If they wanted to work, they would work.
But what if people aren’t so much opting out of one system, but actually opting into a different one?
While they may be saying “no” to the tension and stress of an old way, they are also saying “yes” to the opportunity and challenges of a new way. They aren’t tapping out. They’re tapping in.
The Census Bureau tracks business formation statistics, so we have some numbers to back up this idea. According to Forbes, “since June 2020, the average number of monthly business applications has been 92% higher than between July 2004 and February 2020.”
The initial surge in 2020 may have been due to COVID-related closures and layoffs that sent workers scrambling. But the numbers have stayed high – even as the economy has recovered and “Help Wanted” signs have become ubiquitous.
An entrepreneurial spirit has sustained the US for generations. It has fueled growth in the past and continues to do so. It’s not as easily tallied by the data collectors, but that doesn’t make it any less important. It’s hard to measure what you are not looking for – but not seeing something doesn’t mean it is not there.
This all reminds me of the classic scene in “The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe” where the Witch is operating within a system based on “Deep Magic from the dawn of time,” but the Lion overwhelms that with “Deeper Magic from before the dawn of time.”
In our current economy, an old system is yielding to an even older system. Job postings are going to remain unfilled as long as workers see those jobs as unfulfilling.
This isn’t a matter of resignation, but active and intentional decision making.
The next few years in the economy are going to be fascinating to behold, though the conventional data and statistics probably won’t do it justice.
It’s not a great giving up, it’s a great getting going.