Lesson of the Day: ‘How Do They Say Economic Recovery? “I Quit.”’

Lesson of the Day: ‘How Do They Say Economic Recovery? “I Quit.”’

Featured Article: “How Do They Say Economic Recovery? “I Quit.

The U.S. economy is in the throes of what’s been called the Great Resignation. In September, more than 4.4 million workers left their jobs voluntarily, the highest number in the two decades the government has been keeping track. Across industries, including health care, education, retail, food services and child care, people are saying goodbye to their employers, sometimes even walking out in the middle of a shift.

In this lesson, you will explore why workers are quitting their jobs, how the pandemic is changing attitudes about the nature of employment and what this all means for the future of the workplace. In Going Further activities, we invite you to share your own work goals and experiences and to interview and profile someone else about their work.

Have you ever had a job? If so, what was the experience like? Was it fulfilling? Well paid? Boring? Did you ever think of quitting? Or do you generally think it’s more important to stick it out, even if a situation is not always perfect?

With a partner or in a small group, brainstorm two lists based on your own experiences and those you have heard about from family and friends. Title the first list Reasons to Stay in a Job. Title the second one Reasons to Quit a Job. Come up with as many reasons for each list as you can. When you’re done, share your lists with the class, and together, compile a common list of ideas.

Then, before you read the article, discuss one additional question as a group: Why do you think so many people are quitting their jobs now? What do you think is causing a “great resignation” at this moment in history?

Read the featured article, published in June, then answer the following questions:

1. Why does the article start with the story of Justin Hoffman, who worked as a marketing director at an orthopedic practice in Ohio? What does it illustrate about current trends in the U.S. economy and labor force?

2. What are some reasons American workers have been quitting their jobs in the last year, according to the article? How do these reasons compare with the list you created in the warm-up? What new reasons could you add to your list?

3. What role has the coronavirus pandemic played in the rise of resignations across the country?

4. How have employers responded to this rash of resignations and the growing labor shortage?

5. Why did Matt Gisin, 24, quit his job as a graphic designer at a health and wellness company? What does it reveal about how workers are rethinking their priorities about work, life and purpose?

6. What’s your reaction to the article? What story, quotation or statistic stood out to you? Does it make you change or question your perspective on your own work and future career?

7. What are the implications of the “Great Resignation” on the future of work? Do you think it’s a temporary phenomenon or do you think it is part of a lasting shift in people’s expectations about work? Make a prediction: How will work look different in 2030? 2050?

Option 1: Share your thoughts, experiences and opinions about work:

In a related Student Opinion question, we ask, “How Much Does Having a ‘Dream Job’ Matter to You?” based on the column “Even With a Dream Job, You Can Be Antiwork,” by Farhad Manjoo.

If you are interested in joining a conversation with other teenagers about work and its meaning in your life and in American society in general, please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Option 2: Interview someone about their work experiences

Imagine you have been hired by The Times to write an article on the experiences of American workers. Whom would you profile and why? What questions would you ask? How might these experiences inform and engage readers of The Times?

You can choose to spotlight a person who loves or hates his or her job; a person receiving a minimum wage or a six-figure salary; a young person just starting out in the world of work; or a 50-year career veteran.

Brainstorm a list of questions you could ask to learn about the person’s experiences. For instance, you might ask: What do you like most about work? The least? How has the pandemic affected your work life? Have you ever quit a job? What would make work better for you — and other people at your job? What life lessons have you learned from working? What advice would you give to young people as they think about and imagine their future work and career?

Want more Lessons of the Day? You can find them all here.