Corporate bosses across America have been sputtering in outrage at you working stiffs this summer, spewing expletives about the fact that while the U.S. economy has been coming back, you haven’t!

“Labor shortage,” they squeal, lazily accusing the workforce of mass laziness.

They charge insultingly that millions of workers got used to laying around during the pandemic. Noting that there is now an abundance of jobs open for everything from restaurant workers to nurses, the bosses and their political dogs bark that you people need to get back in the old harness and start pulling again.

Adding a nasty bite to their bark, several GOP governors cut off unemployment benefits to people, hoping to force them to work. Other businesses have proffered signing bonuses, free dinner coupons, and other lures, while such notoriously mingy outfits as McDonald’s and Walmart have even upped their wage scale in an effort to draw workers.

But it’s been a no go. In fact, to the astonishment of the economic elite, the employment flow this year is going the other way! Record numbers of current workers in all sorts of jobs in every section of the country are voluntarily walking away.

There’s even an official economic measurement of this phenomenon called the “Quits Rate,” and it is surging beyond anything our economy has experienced in modern memory. In April, 4 million workers quit. In May, another 3.6 million left. And in June, 3.9 million said adios.

The “Quits” are so unexpected and so widespread that pundits have started dubbing this year “The Great Resignation.”

What’s wrong with people? Why are such staggering numbers of Americans failing to do their jobs? Maybe those are the wrong questions.

Instead, maybe the corporate system’s jobs are failing the people. Consider this: The most common comment by those who’re walking out is, “I hate my job.”

At the core of each complaint is disrespect. The corporate system has cheapened employees from valuable human assets worthy of being nurtured and advanced to a bookkeeping expense that must be steadily eliminated. It’s not just about paychecks — it’s about feeling valued.

So, unionization is booming, millions who were laid off by the pandemic are refusing to rush back to the same old grind, and now millions who have jobs are quitting. This is much more than an unusual unemployment stat. It’s a sea change in people’s attitude about work itself — and life.

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Jim Hightower

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. Distributed by OtherWords.org.