There is a “Great Resignation” In the White House with increasing turnover
“I guarantee we will have a press shop,” new White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre joked to reporters as she delivered her third on-camera farewell to a leaving staffer in less than 24 hours. “Not everyone is leaving,” she continued.
This month, it’s a dynamic that’s acting out across the White House complex — and additional proof that even the White House isn’t exempt from what’s been dubbed “the great resignation,” in which companies try to fill openings and workers jump to new positions at historic rates.
As President Joe Biden approaches his 18th month in office, the administration is seeing abnormally high staff turnover. Long shifts, employee dissatisfaction, and poor salaries are taking their toll on both the top staff and the many junior staffers who keep the White House running smoothly.
It’s not uncommon for a president’s staff to shift at this point in his term, but the pace has been startling at times: Two-thirds of the White House press corps, much of the COVID-19 response team, two of the president’s deputy counsels, and even the White House Twitter account manager are all going in the next few weeks.
Some of it is intentional. As per current and former officials, White House personnel were urged to go by July or sit until after the November elections, as is standard.
Still, the employee turnover comes nowhere close to President Donald Trump’s chaotic first year, during which he hired and fired at an unprecedented rate. In addition, the Biden White House was more stable in its early days than many of its predecessors, making current and prospective departures more obvious.
The entire scope of Biden’s departure will not be known until the White House submits its annual compensation report to Congress at the end of the month.
Biden allies believe the withdrawals are unrelated to the president’s low poll numbers, but rather indicate a normal shift for staffers wishing to better their life quality after working long hours on the campaign. The assistants highlighted most of the outgoing workers had been replaced, and that no essential responsibilities are going vacant.
“This amount of turnover is usual in any government,” White House spokeswoman Emilie Simons said. “Government employment necessitates compromise, and employees frequently have young children, promising private-sector professions, or prospects for promotion within the administration or through graduate school that they must forego.”
Several of the retiring aides are headed to federal agencies, which have significantly more resources than the President’s tiny Executive Office. They can frequently treble their compensation while significantly reducing their work.
In many respects, the resignations reflect a wider economic trend promoted by the Biden White House, in which a remarkably tight labor market has given employees unprecedented leverage to pursue higher-paying professions that are more conducive to their post-pandemic lifestyles.
Nick Bunker, director of economic research at the Indeed Hiring Lab, said, “We’ve seen these extraordinary levels of resigning.” “We’ve also seen really rapid job growth, indicating that individuals are taking advantage of the situation by taking up new positions and earning better earnings.”As a result, I believe it is a largely good story from the perspective of workers.”
As per Labor Department data, over 4 million people have abandoned their employment each month in the last year, amounting to about 3% of all workers departing occupations each month – the majority seeking other possibilities.
“It’s a worker’s market right now,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary at the time, remarked last year, months before departing for a job at MSNBC. “We are aware of this. People are searching for perks that are more consistent. They’re on the lookout for better pay.”
The White House has chafed at the term “great resignation,” preferring to refer to it as the “great upgrade,” as described by Bharat Ramamurti, deputy director of the National Economic Council.
The revenue for the President’s Executive Office is set by Congress, and it has stayed fairly stable even as costs have gone up, notably some as a result of the coronavirus response.
When Biden became office, he also added to his staff, owing in part to the West Wing’s concentration on the federal COVID-19 response and climate policy. According to the research, the average wage in 2021 will be around $94,000. That’s 40% more than the average household income in the country, but it’s still below what well-qualified employees could earn in the private industry.
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White House salaries tend to be well below the salaries that people have before they come into the White House,” said Kevin Hassett, former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers during the Trump administration. “This follows naturally from the fact that a president can choose people who are at the top of their professions. So when people return to their outside profession, the salary likely increases for almost everybody.”
Veterans of previous West Wings who serve in or are in contact with Biden administration officials say there is a notable lack of joy across the White House complex. The pandemic has diminished some of the benefits of the job that typically make the demands of the work more bearable, they said.
“These aren’t bonuses in the traditional sense,” said Eric Schultz, principal deputy White House press secretary at the conclusion of the Obama regime. “They’re experiences that grow your group, intensify your focus on the purpose, and replenish your energies.” “No one travels to the White House to relax, but the responsibilities are exhausting, so finding ideas along the road may be really beneficial.”
The epidemic meant fewer birthday parties in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building’s basement bowling alley and fewer opportunities to give dear ones tours of the historical office. Because of COVID-19, the White House was also unable to hold staff holiday parties in December, and travel has just recently returned to pre-pandemic levels. Most of Biden’s staff couldn’t even stay on the South Lawn driveway to watch the president come or go on Marine One during his first year in office.
Because of the COVID procedures around Biden, which include testing for people who may come into contact with him on a daily basis, many employees have few personal encounters with their boss. Former President Barack Obama’s visit to the White House and discussion with White House workers on the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act was a pleasure for some leaving staff. According to his aides, he spent over five hours in the facility and made a point of engaging with employees, going to spend more time with them than Biden had.
According to insiders, Biden has revived a pre-pandemic custom of facilitating exit photos for departing government officials and their families.