The “Great Resignation” Continues to Take Center Stage

In May 2021 the term coined the “Great Resignation” arose, describing the record number of people leaving their jobs since the beginning of the pandemic. It has been suggested that the trend was “made possible by pent-up demand from shutting down the economy and offering fiscal stimulus programs that inadvertently incentivized people not to work. In April 2020, the labor force participation rate fell to a low of 60.2% as states began to implement the historic enhancement of unemployment benefits that Congress included in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act relief package.  The July 2022 rate of 62.2% remains lower than the 63.4% rate in February 2020, and a more significant decline from the 66.5% rate a decade ago according to BLS data.

The extended period of working from home with no commuting during the height of the pandemic also prompted many people to decide that their work-life balance has become more important to them, with remote work also opening the door to the decoupling of jobs from geography, making the choice of where to live more flexible. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) release of its August 2, 2022 Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, the seasonally adjusted total number and rate of job separations (quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations) in June 2022 was 5.9 million and 3.9% respectively, of which quits (generally voluntary separations initiated by the employee) accounted for 4.2 million, or 71.2%. Although historical quits rates in the U.S. have likely reached levels as high as those observed today, the rates over the last year are higher than those recorded in the preceding two decades according to The “Great Resignation” in Perspective monthly July 2022 labor review by the BLS.

To get a better understanding of the current job market, a survey of more than 15,000 job seekers nationwide was completed over a three-month period by artificial intelligence job-search platform Joblist. Among the categories of key questions, Joblist’s U.S. Job Market Report: Q2 2022 released on July 11, 2022 included the findings of the question “Are people starting to regret quitting their jobs during the Great Resignation.” Among the respondents of Joblist’s survey, one in four workers (26%) who quit their previous job now have regrets of the decision for various reasons, of which the most popular (40%) is that they quit without a new job lined up and the job market proving to be more difficult than expected – despite U.S. job openings at near record levels. Among those that quit and found a new job, 42% said that the new job did not live up to their expectations.

Joblist Report:

BLS August JOLTS release: