The Great Resignation Is Accelerating

I first noticed that something weird was happening this past spring.

In April, the number of workers who quit their job in a single month broke an all-time U.S. record. Economists called it the “Great Resignation.” But America’s quittin’ spirit was just getting started. In July, even more people left their job. In August, quitters set yet another record. That Great Resignation? It just keeps getting greater.

“Quits,” as the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls them, are rising in almost every industry. For those in leisure and hospitality, especially, the workplace must feel like one giant revolving door. Nearly 7 percent of employees in the “accommodations and food services” sector left their job in August. That means one in 14 hotel clerks, restaurant servers, and barbacks said sayonara in a single month. Thanks to several pandemic-relief checks, a rent moratorium, and student-loan forgiveness, everybody, particularly if they are young and have a low income, has more freedom to quit jobs they hate and hop to something else.

Derek Thompson: What quitters understand about the job market

As I wrote in the spring, quitting is a concept typically associated with losers and loafers. But this level of quitting is really an expression of optimism that says, We can do better. You may have heard the story that in the golden age of American labor, 20th-century workers stayed in one job for 40 years and retired with a gold watch. But that’s a total myth. The truth is people in the 1960s and ’70s quit their jobs more often than they have in the past 20 years, and the economy was better off for it. Since the 1980s, Americans have quit less, and many have clung to crappy jobs for fear that the safety net wouldn’t support them while they looked for a new one. But Americans seem to be done with sticking it out. And they’re being rewarded for their lack of patience: Wages for low-income workers are rising at their fastest rate since the Great Recession. The Great Resignation is, literally, great.

For workers, that is. For the far smaller number of employers and bosses—who in pre-pandemic times were much more comfortable—this economy must feel like leaping from the frying pan of economic chaos, only to land in the fires of Manager Hell. Job openings are sky-high. Many positions are going unfilled for months. Meanwhile, supply chains are breaking down because of a hydra of bottlenecks. Running a company requires people and parts. With people quitting and parts missing, it must kinda suck to be a boss right now. (Oh, well!)

The Great Resignation is not the only Great R-word overhauling the labor force.

Leisure and hospitality workers might be saying “to hell with this” on account of Americans deciding to behave like a pack of escaped zoo animals. Call it the Great Rudeness. Airlines in the United States reported that, by June 2021, the number of unruly passengers had already broken records—doubling the previous all-time pace of orneriness. The Atlantic writer Amanda Mull has chronicled America’s epidemic of bad behavior, from Trader Joe’s tirades to a poor Cape Cod restaurant that had to close briefly in the hope that its clientele would calm down after a few days in the time-out box. Cabin-fevered and filled with rage, American customers have poured into the late-pandemic economy with abandon, like the unfurling of so many angry pinched hoses. I don’t blame thousands of servers and clerks for deciding that suffering nonstop rudeness should never be a job requirement.

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Finally, there is a Great Reshuffling of people and businesses around the country. For decades, many measures of U.S. entrepreneurship declined. But business formation has surged since the beginning of the pandemic, and the largest category by far is e-commerce. This has coincided with an uptick in moves, especially to the suburbs of large metropolitan areas. Several major companies, such as Twitter, have announced permanent work-from-home policies, while others, such as Tesla, have moved their headquarters. Several years ago, I wrote that America had lost its “mojo,” because its citizens were less likely to switch jobs, move to another state, or create new companies than they were 30 (or 100) years ago. Well, so much for all that. America’s mojo is back, baby (yeah), and it may lead to a better-job revolution that outlasts the temporary measures, such as unemployment super-benefits and rent protection, that have nourished it.

As a general rule, crises leave an unpredictable mark on history. It didn’t seem obvious that the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 would lead to a revolution in architecture, and yet, it without a doubt contributed directly to the invention of the skyscraper in Chicago. You might be equally surprised that one of the most important scientific legacies of World War II had nothing to do with bombs, weapons, or manufacturing; the conflict also accelerated the development of penicillin and flu vaccines. If you asked me to predict the most salutary long-term effects of the pandemic last year, I might have muttered something about urban redesign and office filtration. But we may instead look back to the pandemic as a crucial inflection point in something more fundamental: Americans’ attitudes toward work. Since early last year, many workers have had to reconsider the boundaries between boss and worker, family time and work time, home and office.

One way to capture the meaning of any set of events is to consider what it would mean if they all happened in reverse. Imagine if quits fell to nearly zero. Business formation declined. In lieu of an urban exodus, everybody moved to a dense downtown. It would be, in other words, a movement of extraordinary consolidation and centralization: everybody working in urban areas for old companies that they never leave.

Look at what we have instead: a great pushing-outward. Migration to the suburbs accelerated. More people are quitting their job to start something new. Before the pandemic, the office served for many as the last physical community left, especially as church attendance and association membership declined. But now even our office relationships are being dispersed. The Great Resignation is speeding up, and it’s created a centrifugal moment in American economic history.

Derek Thompson is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, technology, and the media. He is the author of Hit Makers and the host of the podcast Crazy/Genius.

Apartment Jobs Snapshot August 2021

In August’s edition of NAAEI’s Apartment Jobs Snapshot, nearly 13,000 positions were available in the multifamily sector.

Markets with the highest concentration of job postings included Virginia Beach, San Antonio, Portland, Nashville and Seattle. This month’s spotlight highlights Leasing Consultants. The demand for these positions was twice the national average in Houston, Austin, Virginia Beach, Dallas and Nashville. The top specialized skills employers are looking for included leasing, property management, customer service, sales and Yardi Software.

Tradespeople Report High Levels of Compensation, Job Satisfaction

A career in the trades could provide satisfaction as well as a higher paycheck for those looking to switch jobs. A new report by Angi found that a combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and “The Great Resignation” has created a unique opportunity for the trades to thrive. 

According to the “2021 The Skilled Trades in America” report, careers in the trades have high job satisfaction due to high levels of entrepreneurship, generous pay, and a sense of meaning connected to the work. Of the 2,400 skilled tradespeople surveyed, 83% are somewhat or extremely satisfied in their choice of work. This, coupled with a worsening labor shortage, could create an enticing opportunity for those looking to switch jobs.

According to Mischa Fisher, Chief Economist at Angi, 2021 is a particularly dynamic year for the trades. “The adage that ‘opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work’ has never been truer than it is in 2021,” she said.

Higher demand for work is leading to higher pay — plumbers, electricians, and general contractors earn 22%, 29%, and 53% more than the general population, respectively. Compensation, along with meaning and value in the work, are major drivers of job satisfaction. 

As with other industries, the trades are experiencing a labor shortage. More than two-thirds (68%) of companies are struggling to hire skilled workers. Survey respondents identified several insights that could help companies counteract this shortage.

  • 62% think there is a lack of respect for blue collar work
  • 59% believe providing a clear pathway for women would make the trades more welcoming
  • 54% say that Americans over-prioritize university at the expense of trade school

In addition, although the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) community makes up about 18% of the U.S. population, they only account for 9% of plumbers, 8% of construction supervisors/general contractors, and 10% of electricians.

An adaptive approach to recruiting could be key to tapping into the labor movement. The number of trade companies using online job postings rose to 37% from 28% last year. This represents a missed opportunity since over 80% of Americans use online job searches to find employment.

Companies in the trades also need to better communicate the benefits of these jobs. “If home trades recognize the connection between what their trades offer and what workers are seeking during the Great Resignation, we could begin to see a narrative change around trade labor and start to reverse the labor shortages that have impacted the trades for years,” the report states.

NAAEI Apartment Jobs Snapshot July 2021

Record-breaking apartment rent growth and occupancy powered demand for multifamily talent in July. Nearly 38 percent of positions available in the real estate industry were in the apartment sector. Portland, Ore.; Nashville, Tenn.; Denver; Raleigh, N.C.; and Virginia Beach, Va.; led the nation with the highest concentration of job postings. This month’s edition of NAAEI’s Apartment Jobs Snapshot spotlights maintenance technician job openings.

Demand for maintenance technicians was approximately twice the U.S average in Columbus, Ohio; Portland, Ore.; Seattle, Nashville, Tenn.; and Virginia Beach, Va. The top specialized skills employers are seeking included plumbing, repair, HVAC, carpentry skills and painting.

It’s Time to Rethink Candidates’ Criminal Records


There is a major labor shortage, especially in the hourly wage worker market — to the point that it’s crippling businesses since they are unable to operate fully. Solving this crisis will require both society and employers to rethink how they view hiring individuals with criminal records, and in particular, those who have been previously convicted of felonies, as well as those who have been formerly incarcerated. 

Nearly 1 in 3 Americans has a criminal record, which is a staggering number of people. This has major implications when it comes to employment, since it often prevents opportunity, which becomes a vicious cycle, increasing the likelihood of someone reoffending. As a nation and the employers within it, it’s time to start rethinking hiring workers with past criminal records

[Editor’s note: Join “From Cell Block to C-Suite: The Ins and Outs of Hiring Formerly Incarcerated Individuals,” an interactive ERE webinar on Thurs., Aug, 5, to help you elevate your hiring practices to leverage an often overlooked talent pool.]

Labor Shortage

As mentioned, there’s a dire labor shortage these days. Indeed, you may have seen a lack of staff at local restaurants or during a recent hotel stay or even inside your own organization. As the pandemic subsides, companies are struggling to hire workers, especially in the hourly wage worker market. 

The truth is that employers cannot afford to be as choosy as they once were, which is a good thing since there are approximately 1.9 million formerly incarcerated workers in the labor force who are all too often treated as unemployable. 

But why? It’s time to both offer opportunity to this workforce and solve the talent shortage.

The government has clearly shown its support for changing this view — 26 states have legislation that bars employers from asking for criminal record checks. Again, allowing this workforce to have opportunities is good for them and helps with hiring during today’s tough times. 

Allowing Reform

Imagine making a mistake at a young age (say, between 17 to 30 years old) and then having that mistake, for which you already served your sentence and have lawfully earned your right to freedom, follow you with a constant stigma. Imagine that drastically inhibiting your ability to earn an honest income and provide for yourself and your family. 

What do you think the likelihood is that you would potentially reoffend? Five out of 6 people who were released from prison in 2005 were rearrested at some point over the course of the next nine years.  

What’s more, a study released in March 2018 found that 45% of people released from prison had not reported earning income for the entire calendar year after their release. Common sense suggests that work opportunities are the best way to offer routine and reform to those who have made mistakes at some point in their lives.  

On the other hand, constantly preventing people from moving forward with their lives maintains a cycle of hurt and puts people at risk for reoffending. It’s toxic, and if companies would change their policies and open up opportunities for all, the outcome would likely be a considerable decrease in people reoffending. 

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Lost Taxes and Productivity

There’s data showing that the average cost to house, clothe, and feed someone in prison is the same as the average annual salary of a formerly incarcerated worker. By not offering employment opportunities to people who have been formerly incarcerated, we are essentially forcing them to reoffend since there are no other options. Everyone loses out, and all of society pays for it, quite literally. 

With the 1.9 million formerly incarcerated workers out of the labor market, due to their inability to find gainful employment, the U.S. economy loses $87 billion in gross domestic product.

Here’s another interesting fact: The GDP loss we experience from not hiring that 1.9-million-person workforce is the same as Sri Lanka’s entire economy! This workforce of formerly incarcerated individuals would rank in the top 65 largest economies all on its own. 

Really think about and digest that for a second. Why are we allowing — even forcing — that loss to exist? This does not even mention the taxes that are lost, which could be used for schools, infrastructure, and other high-value inputs to the macro U.S. economy. 

Time to Rethink

If we can take away any positives from all of the turmoil caused this past year by Covid-19, wouldn’t rethinking the way we treat people who have paid their debt to society be a good place to start? Especially when by just offering them career opportunities, we create a better, more productive economy for all of us? 

Let’s hope that the coverage and discussions this topic has generated continues gaining momentum and we actually begin to see some material changes over the coming months and years. Otherwise, continuing to support systems that were created and designed to force those in vulnerable positions to reoffend will only continue to result in that outcome. An outcome that quite literally punishes us all. 

Register for the webinar “From Cell Block to C-Suite: The Ins and Outs of Hiring Formerly Incarcerated Individuals” on Thurs., Aug, 5, for more information.]

NAAEI Apartment Jobs Snapshot Q2 2021

The apartment market continues its recovery during the second quarter. As a result of surging rental rates and occupancy, demand for multifamily professionals stood strong. In this edition of NAAEI’s Apartment Jobs Snapshot, job openings in the apartment industry consisted of more than 37.0% of positions available in the real estate sector, surpassing the 5-year average of 33.2%. Property management, leasing and maintenance job openings declined year-over-year, yet administrative positions increased by 1.1%. Dallas, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Denver and Seattle ranked highest for apartment job demand. For the student housing sector, job openings were most prevalent in Austin, Columbus, Gainesville and Tallahassee.

NAA 20 in their 20s – Sydney Jamieson

Sydney Jamieson, Vice President of Operations for the iLS Network, shares her journey working in the apartment industry.

“For someone who is new to the apartment industry, my biggest piece of advice is to master your current position, and always look for opportunities to level up.”

My RPM Story

I started my first job in the restaurant industry as a bus boy, and eventually transitioned into serving. It was definitely a fast-paced work environment, and I never left without breaking a sweat. I always cared more about providing great service than about how much I made in tips. Six years in the industry gave me a solid foundation for doing so. Although forever grateful for the experience, I decided to pursue a more career-minded profession after graduating the University of Arizona with a business economics degree.

Will Nurss Bio Picture

A friend who had just started working in the industry referred me to residential property management. My friend described the mix of sales, service, and business analysis that went into the profession. I thought it would be a good fit given my service background and business degree. Going on my fourth year in residential property management, I can say I was right.

I am an assistant community director for Weidner Apartment Homes in Tucson, Arizona. My day-to-day functions include leasing, answering phones, responding to emails, working on resident files, doing bank deposits, reconciling move out charges with security deposits, monthly resident event planning, and assisting the director as needed. My attention to detail, and always my desire to help makes me a great residential property management professional. I am always happy to do something extra if I know it will make someone else’s work easier. I take pride in being organized, which is important if you want to work efficiently, and effectively. With all the phone calls, emails, service requests, side projects, and residents stopping in, it is easy to miss things if you are not organized.

Getting to help residents, whether it is in the form of answering a question, or putting in a service request, is the most rewarding part of residential property management. Residents are not just customers that pay rent; they are people you get to know and connect with. There are so many little things you do each day, that all add up to a quality apartment home living experience. Prospects sometimes will tell you stories about places they lived where maintenance was ignored, things were not taken care of, and their concerns were not recognized. I know when they move into our community that will not be their experience. There is a tremendous amount of knowledge that comes with the profession, and there is always room to grow, to learn, and to improve. With each step there is opportunity to pass on knowledge, and help others on your team grow. Each day brings new challenges, and is never the same.

Having started my fourth year in residential property management, I have gained a good understanding and appreciation for what goes into making an apartment property run, I signed up to be a residential property management ambassador to share my insight to help guide others considering a role in the industry.

If you know someone who would make a great RPM Careers ambassador, email Sarah Levine


Landing Your Dream Job with RPM

The saying goes, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” When I found a career in the residential property management (RPM) industry, this sentiment turned into reality, and it can become your reality too. As a national maintenance trainer for the 13th largest property management company in the U.S., I get to travel the country and work with different maintenance teams, pursuing my passion for teaching.Headshot of Ambassador Angel DavilaI began my journey in the RPM industry as a groundskeeper in 2006 after returning from deployment while in the Marines. While I was working as a groundskeeper, I was also pursuing a criminal justice degree to become a police officer. At that time, I didn’t know that RPM would become a lifelong career.

I decided against pursuing a path in police work because I was building skills in RPM and felt such satisfaction from helping residents with their maintenance needs. Being able to solve complex problems brought me extreme pride. What also drove me to stay in RPM was my competitive spirit and desire to do the more technically challenging work that I saw my supervisor doing: using oxygen and acetylene torches, fixing broken waterlines, and completing appliance repairs. I looked up to the people with these skills and even envied them. I knew that I wanted to achieve their level of knowledge and saw the National Apartment Association Education Institute’s continuing education opportunities as the compass that could guide me down the road of success.

The industry gave me the tools and opportunities I needed to grow into a rewarding career. I wrote down all my goals and began pursuing maintenance credentials to help me achieve them. I earned the Environmental Protection Agency’s Universal Certification and became a certified pool operator and certified apartment maintenance technician (CAMT). I rose through the ranks in the maintenance field — from groundskeeper to maintenance technician, maintenance supervisor, regional maintenance supervisor, and then my current role as a national maintenance trainer — always looking toward new learning opportunities that could take my career to the next level. Over 12 years, I was promoted 12 times across the maintenance field, even crossing over to the vendor side as an HVAC project manager. I pursued my certified apartment manager and certified apartment portfolio supervisor credentials and became an instructor for NAAEI after attending its advanced facilitator course. From there, my career skyrocketed.

In RPM, people who work hard, learn, and improve are rewarded for their success. Throughout my career, I’ve been recognized for my commitment to the industry and success in maintenance roles. In 2019, I was named the National Apartment Association CAMT of the Year, and I was recognized as the Texas Apartment Association Maintenance Professional of the Year in 2018. Earning recognition in RPM helped me stand out from the competition when applying for jobs and helped me gain financial freedom over the years due to promotions. If you’re a goal chaser, then this is an industry for you.

My biggest recommendation for anyone considering a career in RPM is to ask themselves one question: “If money weren’t an object, what would I want to do for the rest of my life?”

My answer is simple: Travel, and help others develop their skills. I get to do that every day with my RPM career. The RPM industry offers unlimited opportunities, and it landed me my dream job. Don’t wait!

It’s a Wild Life in Property Management

It’s so nice to “virtually” meet you all!  I am honored to be partnering with the National Apartment Association Education Institute as an RPM Careers Ambassador. I just began my fifth year in the residential property management industry. So far, I’ve worked as a leasing consultant, assistant manager, and property manager with Bell Partners in Greenville, South Carolina. I’m eager to use this platform to tell the story of how I started in this industry, my keys to success, and the speed bumps I’ve overcome. I also look forward to giving recognition to my mentors and sharing the small ways I choose to pay it forward each day!

Bio image of Hannah Lockard

Before 2016 — which now feels like a previous life — I was a wildlife biologist specializing in wildlife management. After college, my goal was to secure the most adventurous, exciting career in wildlife management that I could find. I had unforgettable experiences doing hands-on mountain lion and black bear research during my undergraduate studies. And I have literally been face-to-face with more wildlife than most people ever get to see from a distance. (Steve Irwin, a famous wildlife expert and my childhood hero, would have been so proud.) People often ask me if I miss my adventures in wildlife biology or if I plan to go back to that field someday. They ask what changed that led me to “settle for an office job.”  I would have asked myself the same questions a few years ago. Although I never imagined being so satisfied with an indoor office job, I am so proud of the career I’ve established and that I get to have such an impact on the lives of so many people every day. I can’t imagine doing anything else now. I do sometimes miss the excitement of being hands-on with wild animals. But, to be honest, my job in RPM has just as many crazy experiences and surprises around every corner. As a bonus, my maintenance team always calls on me when they run into an unruly snake, raccoon, or possum in an apartment or on the property, and I get to save the day and put my degree to good use! 😊

Looking back over the past several years, I am astonished at the route my professional career has taken. My employment in the RPM industry was meant to be only a temporary deviation. I’m sure some of you can relate to that! After the birth of my son, I needed a job with convenient hours, and I saw an open leasing position at an apartment community with great hours. I also had the ideal combination of sales, service, and management work experience, so I applied and thought to myself, “This gig will give me the chance to get back on my feet and a steady paycheck while I look for wildlife jobs that I want to do. And the rent discount is pretty sweet too!” The last thing I expected was to launch full speed into a career that I would be as invested in and appreciative of as I am today. What I didn’t know at the start was that I would take that small opportunity and invest all my energy into being the best I could be. By surrounding myself with amazing people who would nurture my growth, I landed on the fast track to positions of influence in which I have the honor of sharing my passion with my community and peers. I never knew that with property management I would have the ability to double my income in a few years with minimal training expenses and earn incredible benefits.

My story is not unique. The people I work with each lived a different life before they got into this business. And, yet, we all found the same “home” in RPM. Our previous jobs in areas such as customer service, education, public service, retail, management, sales, engineering gave all of us the skills we need to be excellent in our positions and even better as a team. We thrive in a setting where we are all feeding off each other’s energies, sharing knowledge and skills, and working toward a common goal: delivering the best possible living experience for our residents. I am most fulfilled when I have the opportunity to train and mentor others, which is why I serve as a mentor with my company. I appreciate getting a call from a colleague where they feel comfortable enough to share their struggles or ask for help solving a problem and I can serve as a sounding board or lead them to find a solution. We are all stronger together when we can rely on each other and be humble enough to ask for the help we need. That’s where we grow and gain the confidence to be our best.

There are so many people in this world who are perfect for work in this industry but haven’t discovered the right opportunity. As an RPM Careers Ambassador, I want to encourage people to explore careers in on-site management, maintenance, or vendor services and show them how to forge their path to their version of success. I want to contribute to improving our industry’s diversity and inclusion by bringing people with bright minds and rich backgrounds to the forefront. If you are not in this industry yet, or if you are considering in which direction you want to go, my biggest advice is to get started. Find a role that uses your skill set and a company that you will be proud to be a part of with core values that match yours and mentors willing to help you grow. Don’t be afraid to start from the bottom. You may end up with the career of your dreams.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog post belong to the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of any employer.