I-TEAM: Child-care crunch fuels ‘the great resignation’

Published: Feb. 21, 2022 at 7:50 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - As businesses across the country struggle to find workers, what’s been dubbed ‘the great resignation’ continues.

Our I-TEAM’s Laura Warren found, here at home, we’re seeing some of the highest quit rates in the country.

About a year after quitting her job, mom of four, Christie Caputo has a new normal. “Life is different on the other side. Once you get past the shock of everything,” she said.

Our I-TEAM first spoke with Christie a year ago, when she made the tough decision, to leave her full-time career in the healthcare field, to homeschool her four kids.

“I was working full time and daycares kept closing down, their school was closed down. I have four kids so, I was at three different facilities with my children,” said Caputo.

She’s not alone. The childcare struggle is everywhere you look.

“My sister-in-law was working full time. She’s a single mom so for her when school shut down it was hard. So, she’s now transitioned to a full-time at-home job,” she said.

What Christie and so many others didn’t really expect when they stepped away, was to stay away.

“I don’t see me changing anytime soon or going back to work. It’s just been so nice not having to juggle a work schedule and having time off or sick kids or wanting to go on vacation, so it’s just been really nice,” she said.

It helps explain why Georgia’s unemployment rate is at an all-time low. When job openings, are at an all-time high. Unemployment rates only account for those looking for jobs. And do not include people like Christie who have stepped away from the workforce, indefinitely.

Janelle Christian, founder/managing director of Sidebiz Smart said: “I think the pandemic was for better or worse, the perfect storm of moral reasoning.”

She quit her six-figure job as a corporate attorney, in 2020, in the middle of the pandemic to start her own business. And hasn’t looked back.

“With so much death and with so much bad stuff happening around us, I feel like it made us all question what is life? What are we doing here? Is this worth it? If I die tomorrow, do I want to be on this conference call with this jerk? I don’t,” she said.

Janelle and Christie are both a part of the record-breaking number of people quitting their jobs. Our I-TEAM found more than one and a half million people in Georgia quit their jobs last year. Three and a half percent of the workforce. Three point one of South Carolina’s workforce quit their jobs too. Both states’ totals, up from the year before. Georgia has the third highest quit rate in the nation, and South Carolina isn’t far behind with the ninth highest.

“Being in the pandemic shut everything around us down, so we had to focus on work and whatever else made us happy, and I think that made a lot of people realize work was not making them happy, and they didn’t have anything else that was,” said Christian.

So now, Janelle’s new career is helping other people, take smart steps to turn their dream jobs, into their real jobs by starting their own businesses.

“I think a lot more people are seeing what’s possible and seeing oh there’s something different. I can do this differently. I can make more money working less for myself without being with coworkers that I hate,” she said.

By talking with her clients, she’s seen the full picture of pandemic frustration from employees ready to part ways.

“I’m seeing that a lot of this could be avoided if employers treated people better. And, by better, a lot of people in my profession think throwing money at situations are better. But really, people want to be seen. People want to be heard. People want space to be human. And, I don’t feel like that’s such a huge ask,” she said.

With about one and a half jobs available for every unemployed worker in the country right now, employers may have to change their ways to keep up with the competitive hiring market, especially in those sectors, feeling the greatest loss like accommodation and food services, and retail.

As people come to grips with a whole new reality. “They see the time they spent in the office wasn’t completely necessary,” she said.

That’s the real problem here for employers. What’s it going to take? And have the new jobs workers found online, working from home, that didn’t even exist before the pandemic made those old jobs obsolete?

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