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The Great Resignation, while hard on businesses, is putting workers in a position of power

a now hiring sign in Champaign, Ill., in 2019
Leigh Trail
A help wanted poster in a shopping mall is a sign of the times. More people are leaving their jobs now than at any point in recent history. While it's hard on businesses, workers are gaining a new sense of confidence, according to Bethia Burke, president of the Fund for Our Economic Future.

America is seeing an unprecedented number of people quitting their jobs.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in December alone, nearly 6 million workers left for something better.

The "Great Resignation" is putting a strain on Northeast Ohio businesses, but it’s also putting workers in a new position of power.

A recent survey by the Cleveland-based Fund for Our Economic Future found that 80% of local businesses can’t find enough workers.

The fund’s President Bethia Burke says this talent shortage is spread across business sectors and hard felt.

“It certainly has real impacts on the ability to produce, or serve people, or keep up hospital systems,” she said.

On the other hand, Burke says the demand for workers is giving employees an increased ability to seek better pay or launch new careers.

“We talk a lot about consumer confidence as an indicator of economic health. This feels like a time when we’re seeing increased worker confidence,” she said.

Burke says four out of five of the local companies that are short on labor have raised wages to retain current workers.

And she says the tight labor market is forcing employers to consider incentives to keep workers, including promotions, child care options, and other benefits.

Burke's organization is delving into the underpinnings of the "Great Resignation" with plans for a more detailed look at how it's impacting local businesses and what's driving it from a worker perspective.

The project called "Where Are the Workers?" is a collaboration between the Fund for Our Economic Future, TeamNEO, and Akron-based ConxusNEO. The next phases included employer centered focus groups and a broad employee survey.

Jeff is your average chemist turned radio host and reporter. He currently hosts middays on WKSU and has reported extensively on science, politics, business, and the environment.