Who is joining the Bay Area’s Great Resignation?

Cindy Ngo knows her story is not unique. A nurse since 2014, her experience of working during the COVID-19 pandemic has completely exhausted her, she said, and she has been exhausted. So in April 2021, she resigned.

Stories of what many call “The Great Resignation” aren’t hard to come by, especially in the Bay Area. In October, 4.2 million Americans left their jobs, down 2.8% from September’s record 4.4 million. There isn’t just one reason they left – everything from burnout and lack of childcare to a desire for more work flexibility – all have been cited in people’s decisions. . To better understand these historic numbers, we spoke with Bay Area workers about their reasons for quitting their jobs over the past two years.

When San Francisco closed in March 2020, Ngo said she was terrified of bringing the virus home to her partner from work. Even though she wasn’t working on one of SF General’s designated COVID-19 floors, they lived in a tiny apartment with windows that wouldn’t even open. In addition, the hospital was understaffed. “We were overloaded with work. Even on my days off they would beg you to work, ”she said. “But I kept saying, ‘I’m not going to quit my job. Everyone loses their jobs.

During this time, she felt isolated from her friends and family, many of whom were able to work from home and protect themselves from the virus.


In January 2021, she said she couldn’t take it anymore. She got serious about making a change and started to think about what she liked to do. Last year, she and her partner moved from this tiny SF apartment to an Oakland house that Ngo really enjoyed decorating.

“I fell in love with the design,” she said. “I tried to [work both jobs]. But I just had to tear off that bandage to pursue a more creative career.

She quit her nursing job in April and decided to start her own business, where she sources home products and amplifies the stories of creative women in the field. “I think a lot of people quit because they realize they don’t want to go back to an office,” Ngo said. “… I feel like I have more control over my days. “

For nurses in particular, she thinks many quit because they feel they can’t provide the quality of care they want when they’re under so much stress.

While a pandemic doesn’t seem like the perfect time to start a new business, more than 4.3 million businesses were created in 2020, according to the US Census Bureau, nearly a million more than 2019 and a record. One of those numbers is the new venture of longtime San Francisco resident Michelle Mak. After taking maternity leave, she was set to return to work as an ecommerce brand manager when the pandemic struck in March 2020. Unsure about the new virus, she feared finding a daycare center for her baby and to return to work safely. .

During her son’s first months, she had found a void in the market for a product she wanted for her baby. While still in the hospital, Mak saw nurses tracking the baby’s feedings and diaper changes on a whiteboard. Mak found printable documents online, but not the whiteboard which she said would make her life easier. She couldn’t believe it didn’t exist, so she decided to take the plunge and try to create the product on her own.

She has not returned to work. “I have made a very difficult decision to assess what is needed in my life,” said Mak. “It was a big change for me to prioritize my personal life over my career. I had this guilt.

She said her sales are increasing and she is already starting to design her next product. “It’s still early days, but I find so much joy in connecting with other moms and living a more fulfilling life,” Mak said. “This is the first time that I have felt like I have some kind of success and balance in my life.”

A Credit Karma study found that half of American workers said the pandemic had prompted them to reassess their work or career. For Rohan Kadam, a resident of San Francisco, he could no longer bear to devote all his time to work. He was a banker at JP Morgan Chase, working in the financial industry since 2011, and it was not uncommon for him to work 70 hours a week before the pandemic hit. He said he didn’t have the time or the energy to pursue anything outside of his job.

He resigned at the end of 2020 and started a blogging business. “I really enjoyed my career in business, but with the pandemic, I started working from home and that’s when I had a little more time to dig into certain passions… J loved my 9 to 5, but I always watched the success stories. on YouTube people who make money online and people who live remotely. It really intrigued me. “

He said he learned a lot from how-to videos online and now earns most of his income from affiliate marketing and ad networks. He even sold one of the websites he launched earlier this year. “The pandemic has been a blessing in disguise for me,” Kadam said. “Before the pandemic, I hardly had the time to invest my time and energy in things that were close to my heart. “

The best part is it doesn’t have to “squeak 9 to 5,” he said. He has the luxury of time and can travel with his wife. The day we spoke, he was about to take a flight.

Not all career changes are as drastic as quitting your job and starting a business. Jackie McGraw left her internal communications job for a nonprofit in San Francisco in April 2021. She was ready for something new and enjoyed exploring new cities other than San Francisco during the pandemic. Her lease had ended and she and her partner spent three months trying out different places to live in the United States. “Remote work opens up more possibilities,” she said. “Even though we came back, we still have this question in mind of whether we should stay. ”

She is now back in the city and working for a creative communications agency with offices in San Francisco, Salt Lake City and New York and continues to work primarily remotely. She said she knew a lot of people had changed jobs in the past two years.

The same Credit Karma study found that 41% of ’employed respondents plan to quit their job in the next six months’ and an October Joblist poll found that’ 58.3% of respondents had quit their jobs in the past six months. of the past six months or were planning to do so. so in the next six months.

None of the people we spoke with said that they thought the “Great Resignation” was going to end anytime soon. “I think the pandemic has put into perspective for so many people what your values ​​really are and, ultimately, what matters to you,” Ngo said.

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