New White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has been forced to deliver the third official on-camera departure announcement in less than 24 hours when she quipped to reporters, “I promise we will have a press shop.” She added, “Not everyone is leaving.”
It’s a phenomenon that’s been playing out across the White House complex this month, and it’s yet more proof that even the White House isn’t immune to what’s been dubbed “the great resignation,” in which employers struggle to fill openings and workers switch professions at historic rates, according to The Washington Times.
As President Joe Biden approaches his 18th month in office, the administration is seeing unusually high staff turnover. Long hours, low morale, and low pay are taking their toll on both the top staff and the many junior staffers who keep the White House running smoothly.
It’s not unusual for a president’s staff to change 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 and according to current and former officials, White House personnel were urged to go by July or wait until after the November elections, as is customary.
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.
“It’s a normal time for this level of turnover in any administration,” said White House spokesperson Emilie Simons. “Government service involves sacrifice, and staff often have young children or promising careers in the private sector they put on hold, or opportunities for advancement within the administration or through graduate school.”
The departures are being attributed partially to the overall turnover in employment nationwide, which is a trend the White House has championed in the form of a tight labor market that gives abnormal leverage to workers.
“We’ve seen these historic levels of quitting,” said Nick Bunker, director of economic research at the Indeed Hiring Lab. ”We’ve also seen really rapid employment growth so that it’s people sort of taking advantage of the situation, getting new jobs, getting higher wages. So I think it is from a worker point of view, pretty much broadly a positive story.”