Teen Vogue tells half the story on the ‘Great Resignation’

November 11, 2021

By Tim Worstall

Teen Vogue misleads its readers by not filling in the obvious blank in a new article on the “Great Resignation,” which Teen Vogue applauds.

But it skates over why it’s happening, which is the awesomeness of a capitalist and free-market economy when at or near full employment.

Teen Vogue talks about how millions are leaving their current jobs – they are. They then ascribe this to people leaving “bullshit” jobs, and this is also probably true. But they then ascribe this to an outbreak of anti-capitalism, or possibly even just some plain good sense. Which isn’t what is happening at all.

The Great Resignation is about something technically called “quits.” This is when someone leaves a job not because they get fired or laid off, but because they decide to. The numbers of quits are, at present, about three times the normal number in the American economy.

Teen Vogue portrays this as folk getting bored with the capitalist economy and going off to do something else other than working. Which is entirely the opposite of what is happening. Unemployment is falling even as quits are rising strongly – those quitting must therefore be taking other jobs. Jobs they like more, for whatever reason. Better hours, more interesting work, less stress, more pay, whatever reason someone might change – not leave – work.

This is not people becoming disillusioned with the capitalist world, this is one of the great glories of properly functioning capitalist labor markets. Better and more interesting jobs are being constantly generated and people are giving up the old to move to the new.

Teen Vogue gets more than 5 million visits a month and claims that it is aimed at “the influencers of tomorrow”. As such it owes its readership the duty of getting the story right, something it doesn’t do here.

Millions of people leaving jobs to take better ones is not a criticism of capitalism nor a sign of disillusion with it. It’s a sign of the system operating properly, continually improving the working lives of the people. This is such a basic point that even Karl Marx himself got it right – it’s what he meant about the reserve army of the unemployed and how things will get better only in the absence of them – and if he could then surely people a century and a half later can.

You can walk out of one job and into a better one? This is a criticism of the system?


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