In December, 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs. That number was down from November’s 4.5 million. The massive amount of Americans quitting their jobs over the past year has been dubbed “The Great Resignation.”

One consequence of the Great Resignation is that many businesses are struggling to hire and retain employees. Arizona’s job openings rate was at 6.8% in December despite a drop in the unemployment rate, according to statistics by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There’s no one answer as to why so many businesses are struggling to hire workers or why many Americans are leaving their jobs. But, what research does reveal is that there are some common denominators — and most of them stem from the same source: COVID-19. 

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COVID-19 infects the job market

When it comes to the current state of the oversaturated job market, two factors have become increasingly more apparent. First, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the pandemic has forced many older workers to retire early or rely on social safety nets while searching for new jobs. The other — perhaps not surprising — has centered on concerns about COVID-19 keeping some people at home. As such, Wayne Goshkarian, director of communications at the Association for Entrepreneurship USA, says that this, combined with other factors, spurred people to start their own businesses during the pandemic. 

“I think what’s happening today is the post-Coronavirus transition,” Goshkarian says, “triggering many people to ask themselves, ‘When are we going to come back (to work)?’ And I think that’s what accelerated entrepreneurship so much — people thinking about the course of their careers.”

Another huge reason for the job market’s state, according to an article by NPR, is that many people are simply renegotiating for better jobs, pay or working conditions. 

Suffice to say, this shift in the labor market makes employers realize it’s an employee’s market.

Goshkarian says that employers are having a “bidding war” in order to attract employees to their establishments. “It’s an employee market, meaning the employee has lots of choices,” he explains. To illustrate this, Goshkarian refers to the dining industry, pointing out that restaurants have had to cut back on the number of tables they have due to being understaffed. “Everything is breaking down,” Goshkarian adds. “We have shortages of goods and services.”

Added to this deficit, according to Goshkarian, is trucker shortages. “We have things at the port — items sitting out in the ocean right now, and there are not enough people to unload the goods,” he says.

Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, told CNN that the industry needs about 80,000 more drivers. The Consumer Flow Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau found in 2017, that truckers move 71% of the U.S.’s economic goods.

The scarcity of truckers and workers drives up the prices of goods, according to Goshkarian. Goods are harder to come by and that can drive the price up. “Almost everything that you and I use came on a truck,” he says. “Those goods didn’t show up miraculously. A truck delivered them. And so when you have driver shortages, you also have increases in gas prices and everything starts going up,” he says.


Supply-chain and labor market issues are both tied to the rise in inflation, causing workers to demand higher wages. High rates of inflation have affected Americans all throughout 2021 and continue into early 2022. 

Phoenix’s Consumer Price Index was up 9.7% in 2021 compared to 2020. The largest increase was in energy prices, 40%, mainly due to higher prices of gasoline, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Inflation, coupled with employee shortages, are really driving up the costs for everybody,” Goshkarian says.

Solving the labor market issue

Goshkarian says that there are two ways that businesses are attempting to attract workers: wages and benefits. “Wages are more appealing,” he says, “because people need to make money to live. Especially with inflation raising prices, employers will have to pay more for workers.” 

There are many creative ways companies are trying to retain workers. These include flexible work options, opportunities for growth, more inclusive health insurance policies and benefits and student loan payback programs. It can also be as simple as writing a job description that includes an accurate description of all the benefits, job requirements and the culture of the workplace.