KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – The novel coronavirus pandemic changed so many aspects of our lives, and for some people, it changed how and where they work. This is one side of the so-called Great Resignation.
The term “great resignation” started floating around throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and looking at statistics, more people are quitting than ever before. The Census Bureau reports that in April, 4.4 million people across the US quit their jobs.
“The quits rate increased in establishments with 250 to 999 employees and in establishments with 1,000 to 4,999 employees,” the report stated.
In the last year, 78 million people were hired at new jobs and over 71 million people quit their jobs.
“I was working retail during COVID and I took about a month off just because we didn’t know what was going on right? We had no idea how this was going to affect people. What it really was, how dangerous it was,” said Callie Weaks.
Weaks is a single mother of two and traded her job in a busy retail environment for a job in real estate so she wouldn’t have to be surrounded by large groups of people during a pandemic, so she could keep her sons safe.
“When COVID first started, we were able to not come to work, but we didn’t get paid for it. So, you know, that was kind of terrifying,” she said. “I was desiring something more anyway, but it was very difficult to leave structure and not knowing what the future was going to hold.”
Weaks started working for True North Real Estate Advisors, but she said it did not come without its issues.
“Being in a commission-based job it’s terrifying anyway because you could have three pending [houses] and then something happens with financing or an inspection or whatever it may be and then you don’t get paid. So I do think that the group that I’m with, has made me progress more just because of the same mentality and we are constantly learning and constantly trying to transition into what the market is going to bring,” she said.
Her advice for people who feel stuck in their jobs — take the leap.
“When you’re in an environment at your work, that you’re not appreciated or your leadership’s bad, I think it’s, it’s necessary for us to just think about what’s best for us what’s best for our families. And just take that jump, you know, and see where it takes you because if you don’t try, you’re never going to know,” Weaks said.
One family who took that jump was the Sibley’s.
Wendy and Jeff Sibley started a new business during the pandemic.
“My husband and I had started a flooring store before COVID and we were just getting started when COVID hit. We hung on for a year, but when people are telling you they don’t want you in their houses, and you can’t do a floor if you don’t go to people’s homes. So that kind of fizzled out wasn’t going anywhere. So we closed that and they were looking for something else to do,” Wendy Sibley said.
They sold their Blountville home and bought the property next door to follow her lifelong dream.
“We inquired about the farm it was sitting vacant, and within two weeks we were we sold our house in three days we moved down the hill and started this so just a passion. I just love what I love plants and flowers and this just seemed like the way to go,” she said.
The Sibleys weren’t the only ones to start their own business during the pandemic.
“From pre-pandemic times, when people were at home with that free time saying, you know, ‘I think now would be a good time to start a business.’ Now the other part that’s very interesting right now is we have a lot of movers people moving into the Tri-Cities and so there are a lot of people that are not from here, they’re looking to start doing business,” said Aundrea Salyer, Executive Director of Kingsport Office of Small Business Development & Entrepreneurship (KOSBE).
The Move to Kingsport department in the town’s chamber of commerce reports that roughly 70 households moved to the Model City during the pandemic.
“There are a lot of people that are not from here, they’re looking to start doing business, and so they might be coming in and asking of me, asking of KOSBE, do you know of any businesses that might be for sale? So that’s one area we certainly can help with some of that there are clients that we work with that are in that mode, that are looking to have a plan to succeed the business, they’re looking to get out of the business. And so there are business owners that are looking for a buyer,” Salyer said.
Nearly 5.4 million applications were filed to form new businesses in 2021 — the most of any year on record, based on the latest data from the Census Bureau’s Business Formation Statistics.