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Wave of layoffs at the White House

In less than 24 hours, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said goodbye to three White House staffers.

“I assure you that the press office is still working fine. Not everyone is leaving,” Jean-Pierre told reporters, as a series of White House staffers quit around the time of his tenure. Mr. Biden is about to enter his 18th month.

Follow APlong working hours, low morale and relatively low wages are affecting both senior aides and low-level staff in the White House.

In fact, it’s not unusual for employees to quit in the middle of a US president’s term. As is customary, the White House encourages employees who want to leave before July or after the midterm elections in November.

However, for a staff that is said to be much more stable than his predecessor Donald Trump, this situation is attracting a lot of attention. Two-thirds of the press office staff, most of the Covid-19 response team, two aides to the President’s legal advice and even the staff managing the White House Twitter account all left within weeks.

President Joe Biden (centre) with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Vice President Kamala Harris, in the Oval Office, West Wing of the White House, January 25, 2021.  Photo: NY Times.

President Joe Biden (centre) with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Vice President Kamala Harris, in the Oval Office, White House, January 25, 2021. Image: NY Times.

His assistants Biden insists that the staff departures are not related to Mr. Biden’s current low popularity but stem from common reasons. Some people feel exhausted from working too many hours and wish to improve their quality of life. Aides stressed that they have already appointed replacements and that no key positions will be left vacant.

“This is normal for any administration,” said White House spokeswoman Emilie Simons. “Serving the state requires great sacrifice while personnel often have young children or have the opportunity to work in the private sector, or they want to find promotion prospects in another government agency.”

Many employees leave their jobs to federal agencies, where they can earn twice the salary and significantly reduce their workload compared to positions in the Executive Office of the President.

Situation in the White House reflects the “Great Leave” trend that has taken place in the economy America over the past year or so, as workers look for jobs that pay better or are more compatible with post-pandemic lifestyles. “From a worker’s perspective, this is a positive,” said Nick Bunker, chief economist at Indeed Hiring Lab, which tracks employment trends and analyzes data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). , identify.

According to data from the US Department of Labor (DOL), more than 4 million Americans quit their jobs each month over the past year, most in search of new job opportunities. In March, the total number of Americans out of work was 4.54 million, a rate of the highest of all timeequivalent to about 3% of the entire workforce in this country.

The White House disagrees with the use of the term “Great Retirement” and tries to describe the trend as a “Great Upgrade,” as the National Economic Council (NEC) deputy director Bharat Ramamurti has called it.

Helicopters approach the White House in Washington DC, the US capital.  Photo: NY Times.

Helicopter approaches the White House in Washington, D.C. Image: NY Times.

The United States Congress is the party that sets the budget for the Executive Office of the President. But this amount has remained almost unchanged even though the cost of living for Americans has increased. Mr. Biden also expanded his staff since taking office, to focus on responding to Covid-19 and implementing climate policies.

The median salary of White House staffers is about $94,000 a year, 40% more than the average American household, but less than a highly-skilled worker can earn. in the private sector.

“White House salaries tend to be much lower than what people get for their jobs,” said Kevin Hassett, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). “The president often selects people with top expertise. So when these people return to their old jobs, their salaries will often increase.”

In addition, employees and former employees under Mr. Biden also said that the working environment at the White House was lacking “a happy atmosphere”, because the Covid-19 pandemic had reduced some benefits.

The White House has limited the organization of birthday parties or holidays, as well as limited opportunities for employees to bring relatives to visit the workplace because of the complicated epidemic situation. Preventive measures also make employees less likely to interact with their superiors.

“Those are the energizing moments that help build strong teams,” said former press secretary Eric Schultz. “No one goes to the White House for a walk, but work is exhausting, so moments of relaxation or inspiration can mean a lot.”

Duc Trung (Follow AP)

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