There’s a wild card in the push to return to pre-pandemic life: Many workers don’t want to go back to the jobs they once had.
Layoffs and lockdowns, combined with enhanced unemployment benefits and stimulus checks, gave many Americans the time and the financial cushion to rethink their careers. Their former employers are hiring again — and some, like Uber and McDonald's, are offering higher pay — but workers remain hesitant.
Heidi Shierholz, a senior economist who researches low- and middle-income workers with the Economic Policy Institute, said health concerns and child care responsibilities seem to be the main reasons holding workers back.
In April, she said, at least 25% of U.S. schools weren't offering in-person learning, forcing many parents to stay home. And health concerns could gain new urgency for some workers now that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks in most settings.
Shierholz added that unemployment benefits are designed to give workers the time to find jobs that are better suited to their abilities.
In other developments:
- A top White House aide made his pitch for young people to get vaccinated personal on Tuesday, sharing the struggles his son has experienced since contracting COVID-19 last fall.
- Texas’ governor says public schools must end mask requirements starting in June and is ordering Texas’ cities and counties to drop nearly all face covering mandates by the end of the week.
- The Serum Institute of India says it hopes to start delivering coronavirus vaccines to the U.N-backed effort known as COVAX and to other countries by the end of the year. The delay will significantly set back global efforts to immunize people against COVID-19.
- The United Arab Emirates will offer booster shots to those who received the Chinese state-backed Sinopharm vaccine six months after vaccination amid concerns of a low antibody response from the vaccine. The move appears to make the UAE the first country worldwide to formally introduce the booster.
- A top White House aide is making his pitch for young people to get vaccinated personal by sharing the struggles his own son has dealt with since contracting COVID-19 last fall.
- After more than a year of benching its biggest spectacles, Hollywood is ready to dazzle again.
- Shoppers, newly vaccinated, are emerging from their homes and going out again, and that, along with government stimulus payments, is helping to boost fiscal first-quarter results for major retailers Walmart and Macy's.