Skip to main content

I was walking through a store recently and noticed an older female employee with her head in her hands and fast asleep at the fitting room check-in counter.

I gently touched her arm to see if he was alright. Startled and a bit embarrassed, she said she was ok but exhausted. We had a brief but insightful conversation that revealed that this was one of two jobs she was working, neither of which paid enough to cancel out the other.

Another salesperson added to the discussion about how overworked and underappreciated they were, but that economics and necessities made them overlook their less-than-desirable work conditions. They needed to eat, pay rent, and buy Christmas gifts for their grandchildren.

Chatter seems constant about people being lazy and not wanting to work to do the seemingly high number of unfilled jobs.

I don’t think that’s necessarily true.

The pandemic highlighted the disparities between those who do the labor and those who direct it.

Many in the former category got fed up and pursued other options, including gig work and entrepreneurship. But some had no choice but to stick it out.

People are working. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Michigan’s Unemployment Rate is at 4.10%, compared to 3.90% last month and 4.40% last year. This is lower than the long-term average of 7.72%.

Sometimes, employees realize their value and use it to gain what they want and deserve. Teamsters and auto workers bargained for and received massive raises. Most other workers without similar collective power have succumbed to the demands of an unstable economy and growing inflation.

Real wages have fallen since the pandemic ended and were flat last month. Older workers may lack the energy or ability to risk restarting a career or launching a new idea. So they have no choice but to work multiple jobs at a time when they should otherwise be enjoying retirement.

With the pandemic came a lot of changes. The old model of going back to school, going into debt to do so, and working a job where you have more than you got back is fading.

Those who cannot pursue other options must seek rest and reprieve wherever possible, even at the jobs they hate.

Close Bitnami banner