Statistics for Great Resignation

By Jay L. Zagorsky —The Dialog 5 minute Learn

The latest figures got here out on January 4, 2022, and confirmed that 4.5 million folks voluntarily left their positions in November–an “all-time high,” in accordance with the company accountable for accumulating the information. That’s 3% of the nonfarm workforce, which headlines additionally proclaimed a record stage.

However is it?


The “give up charge” interests me as a result of I wrote my economics doctoral thesis on how people find work. Since then, I’ve been fascinated by how folks go away jobs after which discover new ones.

Monitoring ‘quits’

Knowledge on folks quitting comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Every month, the bureau runs the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, also known as JOLTS. The bureau interviews about 20,000 companies and authorities companies month-to-month, which it makes use of to estimate a number of elements of the workforce, together with the quantity of people that give up, retired, have been employed, or have been fired.

Since April 2021, the share of nonfarm employees who give up their jobs has been at some of the highest levels recorded by the bureau. In all, almost 33 million people left their positions throughout this era, or over a fifth of the total U.S. workforce.

Actually, that’s lots of people. However a better have a look at all of the historic knowledge we have now may help put this in some perspective.

One situation is looking the present ranges a “document.” The issue is the information solely goes again a little bit over twenty years, which implies it’s actually potential that the speed may have been larger at a number of factors prior to now. We simply don’t know.


For instance, through the dot-com bubble within the late Nineties and early 2000s, the U.S. economic system was strong, which created many new jobs and alternatives for employees. These are typical precursors to more people quitting their current jobs in search of better pay and advantages. On condition that the speed was 2.4% in January 2001–a month after the quits knowledge begins–it’s not a stretch to think about it might have been larger than the present stage sooner or later in 2000 or earlier.

As a result of a few third of the U.S. workforce had manufacturing jobs within the late Nineteen Forties, this implies the general give up charge was probably larger again then.

Placing quits into perspective

Plenty of tales have additionally centered on absolutely the variety of employees who give up their jobs, similar to 4.5 million who give up in November—on a seasonally adjusted foundation.

If quits for December 2021 are much like November, I count on about 47 million folks could have voluntarily left their jobs in all of 2021. That may imply about 33% of the full nonfarm workforce give up jobs final yr.

Once more, that looks as if so much, however an enormous swath of the labor pressure does this yearly. In 2019, for instance, about 28% of the U.S. workforce give up.

So, is quitting larger than regular? For certain. However is it off the charts sufficient to earn the moniker of “nice”? I don’t suppose so.

Not all sectors are seeing a wave of quitting

Employees additionally aren’t quitting in droves throughout all sectors of the economic system. Whereas quits are larger than typical in most industries, a number of sectors are accountable for a lot of the turnover, with some decrease than their latest peaks.

The highest quit rate is in lodging and meals companies. About 6.9% of individuals working in accommodations, motels, eating places, and bars gave discover in November. Whereas that’s the best since 2000, voluntary turnover on this sector is usually on the high side–given the character of the work–and has been above 5% many occasions over the previous twenty years.

November’s second-highest give up charge, at 4.4%, was retail trade, which incorporates employees in shops and outlets. Mixed, these two comparatively low-wage industries accounted for one-third of all individuals who give up that month.

Then again, the give up charges for construction, information, finance and insurance, and real estate are comparatively low and have been larger prior to now 21 years.


We will additionally see from the information that younger folks make up the most important share of these switching jobs. Knowledge from ADP, one of many largest payroll processors, breaks down turnover by age. However in contrast to the JOLTS knowledge, ADP doesn’t be taught why somebody is now not working at an organization–whether or not they give up, have been fired, or one thing else—so it might probably observe solely whole turnover.

ADP’s most recent data shows excessive turnover is concentrated amongst 16-to-24-year-olds, with a turnover charge virtually thrice the nationwide common.