Changed by pandemic, many workers won’t return to old jobs

National News

(AP) — There’s a wild card in the push to return to post-pandemic life: Many workers don’t want to go back to the jobs they once had.

Layoffs and lockdowns, combined with enhanced unemployment benefits and stimulus checks, gave many Americans the time and the financial cushion to rethink their careers. Their former employers are hiring again — and some, like Uber and McDonald’s, are offering higher pay — but workers remain hesitant.

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Nate Mullins quit his job as a bartender last November after clashing with managers over mask rules. He lives with his immune-compromised sister and worried he would spread the coronavirus to her.  

Mullins’ unemployment checks don’t match what he was making at his Oak Harbor, Washington bar, but they’re enough to get by while he looks for jobs that would provide health care and retirement benefits.  

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“This opportunity to take a step back and really think about what you’re doing really changed my mind,” said Mullins, 36. “It made me think long-term for the first time.”

Workers like Mullins are one reason U.S. hiring slowed in April. Some employers and business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are calling for an end to the $300-per-week federal unemployment supplement, saying it’s giving recipients less incentive to look for work. 

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