From Great Resignation to Big Quit: Why Over 20 Million People Quit Their Jobs in The Second Half of 2021
In the summer of 2021, a record 4.3 million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs in what some are calling the beginning of the “Great Resignation.” It was one of the highest “quit rates” ever recorded since the government started keeping track two decades ago.
Unfortunately, the situation did not get any better as the year came to a close. According to the government’s jobs report released in the first week of 2022, over 20 million people voluntarily quit their jobs in the second half of 2021, according to a report by Bloomberg, citing the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The ‘Great Resignation’ shows no sign of slowing down in 2022, with employees continuing to leave their jobs in droves. In fact, as many as one in four workers are considering quitting their jobs moving into the New Year, compared to the usual 11%.
The Great Resignation is a term first coined by Texas A&M University professor Anthony Klotz and has become another buzzword on social media. Klotz argues that “when there’s uncertainty, people tend to stay put, so there are pent-up resignations that didn’t happen over the past year.”
The most recent data show people quitting jobs across the board. While 4.4% of all positions in education are open, over 6% in retail, and more than 8% in health care, employers are still unable to find the right candidates. So, why are workers leaving their jobs in droves and refusing to back to work?
Experts offered many insights including workers not wanting to go back to the office due to the fear of getting sick, flexibility, and work-life balance. Others said the failure of employers to address the new realities of work is sparking a ‘Hidden Resignation’ of burned-out employees. While some workers left their jobs to focus on what is important in life such as family and their children’s education.
However, maybe the best place to look for real-time answers to why people are quitting their jobs is LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network with nearly 800 million members in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. LinkedIn’s data on who’s leaving jobs is most compelling: tens of millions of child boomers retiring early.
In an interview with CBS 60 Minutes, LinkedIn’s chief economist Karin Kimbrough explained that people have been living to work for a very long time. “And I think the pandemic brought that moment of reflection for everyone,” she added. “What do I wanna do? What makes my heart sing?” And people are thinking, “If not now, then when?”
Kimbrough also told CBS 60 Minutes Bill Whitaker that when workers were no longer getting the benefits, they did not rush back to work. When asked if “employees are kind of in the driver’s seat” Kimbrough responded saying “Employees are in the driver’s seat right now.”
“Workers want better pay and benefits, of course, but they’re also demanding autonomy and flexibility, particularly in their work schedules. And employers – large and small – simply have to respond,” she added.
Karin Kimbrough: At the nationwide level the number of Americans quitting their job is higher than ever.
Bill Whitaker: Higher than ever?
Karin Kimbrough: Higher than ever.
Bill Whitaker: Do the data tell you why?
Karin Kimbrough: We can see what sectors people are quitting. Retail sectors and hospitality sectors. It may not just be worth it for some folks. And so in some cases people are quitting and they’re not yet returning. They’re taking a break. Americans are burnt out. I like to think of it as– it’s a, “Take this job and shove it,” measure. It’s just a sign of people saying, “You know, I don’t need this.” You can watch the rest of the interview in the video below.