Biden administration takes new steps to improve job quality amid record resignations

The program, called the Good Jobs Initiative, was unveiled by Walsh – the former mayor of Boston – at the winter meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors in Washington. The initiative, led by the Department of Labor, will establish a broad framework across the federal government to inform workers of their rights, including their right to bargain collectively, encourage employers to improve jobs to retain workers and deploy federal agencies to bolster the plan.

“We will work with all federal agencies to build job quality into all of our contracts and grants. apprenticeships, which open up opportunities for women and people of color and underserved communities across this great country,” Walsh said during his speech at the meeting. “We will be engaging employers to help them improve the job quality, so that every industry can attract and retain the talent it needs. We will speak directly to workers – ensuring they have the information they need to exercise their rights. , to find a good job and acquire in-demand skills. »

The new initiative comes as the US labor market faces complex and consequential changes – dubbed by some as the “great resignation”.

While the country no longer faces the record unemployment rate seen at the start of the pandemic, there is a labor shortage, leading many workplaces to struggle to keep up with demand.

A record 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November, but many of those quits are young people leaving for other jobs or better pay.

Yet labor force participation — that is, the number of people in the United States who are working or looking for work — has not improved at the same rate as the decline in unemployment since the pandemic.

Although there have been a variety of issues pushing Americans out of the workforce, early retirement has had a major impact. Nearly 70% of the 5 million people who left the labor force during the pandemic were over the age of 55, according to Goldman Sachs researchers, with many not wishing to return to work.
There are also other factors that have an impact on the labor market, such as the many women who have been forced out of the labor market during the pandemic and have not returned and the growing number of people who say they independent workers.

In an interview before announcing the Good Jobs Initiative, Walsh claimed that many Americans quit their jobs because they want more from their employers.

“I don’t think ‘the big quit’ is the real story when you look at (the fact that) more people joined the workforce last year than at any point in the last 25 years,” Walsh told CNN. “But I think a lot of people left the workforce because they weren’t making a good salary and for some reason decided to leave.”

The genesis of the initiative, Walsh said, was the sweeping bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed into law last fall. A priority of the initiative will be to support the implementation of the bipartisan Infrastructure Act, providing guidance on the jobs created through infrastructure investments, according to the Labor Department.

“We want to make sure that when implementing the bipartisan infrastructure law, the jobs created are well-paying, good-quality jobs, and to make sure people have access to them,” he said. .

In addition, the initiative will centralize agency efforts to provide technical assistance on many job quality standards across the federal government, including anti-discrimination requirements, equal employment opportunity requirements in learning and supportive environments for free and fair union organizing and collective bargaining, according to the Department of Labor. DOL will also partner with the White House to support the agencies in their efforts.

In addition to federal efforts, Walsh on Friday called on mayors to partner with the Biden administration on the initiative and told CNN he plans to speak to governors next week about state involvement. .

In another federal effort this week to support workers amid the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced it would provide $103 million to help retain healthcare workers by strengthening long-term efforts to reduce burnout and promote mental health.

The money for services comes as about one in four hospitals in the United States reports a “critical shortage of staff,” more than most of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to HHS data.

The funding, which is part of the U.S. bailout passed last spring, will “go to numerous organizations that oversee evidence-based programs, practices, and training. The focus will be on providers that offer services in underserved and rural communities,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra at a press conference Thursday.

The DOL and Department of Transportation also announced new initiatives earlier this month aimed at addressing truck driver shortages and retaining drivers, which come amid a supply chain crisis at the national scale.


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