The Great Resignation and hourly wages
By Dr. Glenn Mollette
A young adult woman in Johnson County, Ky., was recently faithfully working her convenient store register job. She had a line of patrons buying drinks and paying for gasoline. Someone asked her how much money she made? “Nine dollars an hour,” she said. “I’ve worked here over two years, and the pay has been $9 an hour. I’ve asked for a raise. I work hard. I’m here almost all the time. A manager from the chain of stores always says, ‘We are looking into it’.
“I have to find another job because I can’t take care of myself and my children on $9 an hour,” she said.
A patron in line who was only buying a cup of coffee with a $20 bill took the cash she had just handed him in change and said to her, “Please take this and buy some lunch today.”
The woman said, “Uh, no, I don’t want that,” but the man insisted and she accepted it with tears coming from her eyes.
“Thank you, thank you so much,” she said to the man. “I’ve never had anybody to do anything like this for me in my life.”
It was good to see a random act of kindness, but the episode was a real-case scenario of how hard life is for many Americans just like this woman, working for low hourly wages.
On Jan. 5, the U.S. Dept. of Labor released its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary, revealing that the number of resignations reached 4.5 million in November. The number increased by 370,000, matching September’s quit rate record high of 3%, indicating that the Great Resignation isn’t showing signs of stopping.
Will the Johnson County woman quit her job? She will, if she can find a better paying one. Unfortunately, in this area of the country, that’s not easy to do. She may have to move in order to make more money. Many employers across the country have had to raise what they are offering in order to find and keep good employees. Thus, many of the Americans who did quit their jobs in November did so because of the lure of better pay in other places.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 in Kentucky, as well as in Indiana (for employers of six or more employees). It’s the same wage for many other states, but some are doing much better.
In California, the minimum wage is $14 for those businesses with 25 or less employees and $15 for those with more workers. In Massachusetts, it went from $13.50 in 2021 to $14.25 this year. And, in New Jersey, it’s $13 (up from $12 last year).
Among the states with the lowest minimum wage, at $5.15, are Wyoming and Georgia (for six or more employees).
However, you can’t go by the state minimum. You have to find the right employer who is paying what will make you happy and determine what it will require of you to be an employee.
If you are looking at state guidelines in hopes of better pay, simply go to PeopleReady.com or https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/minimum-wage/state.
Editor’s note: Dr. Glenn Mollette is a graduate of numerous schools, including Georgetown College and Southern and Lexington seminaries in Kentucky. He is the author of 13 books, and his column is published weekly in more than 600 publications in all 50 states.