12.14.21 – Business Report —
It took about a decade of experience at the Louisiana Workforce Commission before Jordan Grove accepted his reality: “The promotion wasn’t coming for me.”
Grove had also spent years driving back and forth from his Denham Springs home to his downtown Baton Rouge office before the pandemic showed him firsthand the benefits of working remotely, and slowly he realized it was time to move on.
Once Grove made that decision, it didn’t take long before there was an offer on the table: With a move over to the U.S. Department of Labor, Grove landed a $20,000 pay raise, a potential for promotions in the future and a flexible work environment.
“They try to set you up in a position to succeed,” Grove says of his new role, which will eventually require a move to Dallas. “My wife and I have deep roots in this state. My wife is Cajun and can trace her roots back to Nova Scotia … but leaving the state would put our children in a better position to be successful down the road.”
Grove’s experience is hardly unique: Since the coronavirus arrived in the U.S. in 2020, the labor market here has shuffled and reshuffled as government programs, mutual aid, employment opportunities and social distancing mandates have played out in every community. The result today is a scarcity in labor, record-high quitting levels, rising wages and dropping jobless claims.
“Sometimes people think about work as unidimensional, but people have livelihood strategies—things have to work together to make ends meet—and a lot of people’s lives have been very disrupted by all of this,” says Tim Slack, a professor in LSU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences who studies labor force issues.