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Will people re-enter the labor market? How many workers will quit this year? A survey of 5,000 Northeast Ohio residents offers clues

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Despite all the turnover during the “Great Resignation,” 1 in 5 workers in northeast Ohio are still planning to quit next year.

Some workers aren’t happy to be back in the office full-time, and many more still face barriers to gainful employment, despite what’s called a worker-friendly labor market.

This information, and more, was found in a survey of 4,987 working-age adults in 11 northeast Ohio counties, from Cleveland to Lorain, Youngstown and Canton.

Thanks to Where Are the Workers, a multi-phase project led by the Fund for Our Economic Future, Greater Cleveland now has a massive amount of data to try to answer this question and dig deeper into the labor shortage. current.

There’s too much data to take it all in at once, said Bethia Burke, president of the Fund. The preliminary conclusions alone filled 160 pages. But what is clear is that workers’ sentiments have changed permanently.

“Major environmental events over the past two years have influenced and will continue to influence a generation of workers and how they make workplace choices,” Burke said.

“This is a time (for workers) where there is an opportunity to question how workplaces are structured and who they work for.”

Quitting smoking has been and will continue to be common

For every five workers currently employed, one expects to quit within the next 12 months. And 2 in 5 said they would look for a new job.

A high number of workers are considering leaving even though 17.3% of them told surveyors that they had left a previous job in the last 12 months.

Burke said the data shows there is still a sustained movement of people.

“I was surprised that there were still enough people left who didn’t move out and would be interested in a change,” she said.

Survey data showed that many workers, about one in five, plan to quit in the next 12 months.The Fund for our Economic Future

Workers also clearly feel they have a choice, judging by their responses to the survey.

Most people who consider quitting smoking, about eight out of 10, consider finding another job.

Of those looking for a new job, 83.8% are confident they can find a job with similar income and benefits.

Of those who quit in the past year and found a new job, 37.8% had no planned job before quitting.

More than half of unemployed people are not looking for one

If employers want to bring people back into the workforce or keep the people they have, the glass is half full or half empty, depending on how they see it.

Of all respondents who did not have a job, which excludes retirees, 54% were not looking for work.

If you ask people who are considering quitting, 55.8% say their employer could do something to encourage them to stay.

And according to the survey, 43.8% of part-time workers would prefer full-time work.

Burke said these and other questions about flexibility, benefits and the desire for meaningful work show there are things employers can do to keep people.

“Companies that are ready and willing to listen to the workforce have the opportunity to compete and attract and retain this type of talent,” Burke said.

Money talks WATW

The Where are the workers survey showed that most workers believe good wages are important.The Fund for our Economic Future

Money talks, with 81% of working-age adults saying a good salary is very important and 17% saying it’s quite important, leaving only 3% of people who did not say the salary was important in their decision.

But meaningful work (92%), flexible hours (90%), paid time off (88%) and advancement (83%) were all rated as important by respondents.

Not a labor market for everyone

While the survey, national data and headlines all point to a great job market for workers, that doesn’t ring true for a significant portion of those polled.

Just under one in five adults (19.8%) said it had been difficult to find or keep a job in the past 12 months. And these barriers are not evenly distributed.

People who are black or multiracial, with children under the age of 5 or between the ages of 18 and 24 were more likely to say finding a job was difficult, with each group responding over 29% of the time.

Some of the main obstacles cited were health problems, transportation problems and wages that are too low to support a family.

Of all unemployed people not looking for work, only 7.4% said they were choosing not to work. Others were stay-at-home parents, had disabilities that prevented them from working, or had health problems.

Learn more

For anyone interested in the Where Are the Workers project, a webinar open to the public will be held at 12:30 p.m. on June 8. The Fund will also publish blog posts periodically expanding on the survey results. People can find updates at

Learn more about it at

Where are the workers? A new survey will ask thousands of real people to find out

Where are the workers? New data shows how many employers are raising wages to attract and keep employees

Some of those barriers can be a lack of communication between employers and potential employees, or long-standing stigma, Burke said.

If someone with a criminal record has been barred from employment for years, they won’t feel welcome in a workplace just because the job market has changed, Burke said.

In other cases, Burke said employers test drugs but don’t disqualify people for marijuana use. But, not knowing that, a recreational or medical user might avoid that job posting, she said.

Burke said employers have changed a lot of practices, but it will take time to communicate that to potential employees.

Data on barriers is also something the Fund and its partners plan to explore further. An answer like “the salary is too low to support a family” is something that Burke says needs much more scrutiny.

How many work from home; how many want?

Only 56.2% of workers surveyed said they worked entirely from a desk or workplace, but only 36.7% of workers said they wanted to be in the workplace full-time, and 45.9% said they wanted to work entirely or mainly from home.

According to the survey, 26.5% work entirely or mainly from home, although 40.7% of these workers did so before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Burke said it’s important for employers to have conversations with their employees about what drives their desires, including working from home.

At employer roundtables organized by the Fund, companies recognized that traditionally salaried workers had more flexibility than hourly workers, Burke said.

Burke said employers should dig deeper into what employees are asking for when they say they want to work remotely. Is it the skipped commute, the ability to be a caretaker for kids or aging parents? Or is it the ability of workers to be introverted or have a better work-life balance?

The most actionable conclusion from the data, Burke said, is that employers need to ask employees more questions.

“Ask workers what matters to them,” Burke said. “Ask people who work for you now what matters to them. Ask follow-up questions.

What’s next for Where Are the Workers?

Even though there are tons of data now available, the survey of working-age adults is still in its early stages.

Burke said there will be months of analyzing the data and gleaning more information. The size of the survey allows for deeper analysis than national data could tell city leaders about the region.

The project already included surveys of 750 employers in the region and round tables with them. The Fund will organize more roundtables with adults of working age to work on the problems and solutions found in the survey.

The Fund is working with Team NEO, ConxusNEO, PolicyBridge and the Summit & Medina Workforce Area Council of Governments on the project, which has a multi-pronged approach.

Burke said they are working on sharing the full dataset, so anyone can start browsing it. And the Fund plans to create a website to share all the data in the third quarter of 2022.

The central question of the whole project was where the workers were going. Ohio’s labor force, the number of employed plus those looking for a job, it’s about 200,000 short of what it was before the pandemic.

Burke said she did not know how many workers could be recruited. The pandemic has given many a moment to reevaluate their choices, and some have found much better ways to balance work and life.

“It’s not necessarily bad for people to adjust their work-life balance,” Burke said, adding that it makes it harder for people trying to run businesses.

She said some companies see the labor shortage as a time to turn things around, others see it as a short-term issue.

“Some companies that see this moment as something they have to go through, instead of reacting too,” Burke said. “It’s the companies that are going to lose the war for talent, because there are enough opportunities for people to go elsewhere.”

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