The number of Americans who voluntarily quit their jobs surged to a record high in August, reaching 4.3 million, the highest level on record dating back to December 2000, according to US Bureau of Labour Statistics data released Tuesday.
The phenomenon has now been dubbed ‘The Great Resignation’.
In the same month, the US Bureau of Labour Statistics said there were more than 10 million vacancies, pointing to a tightening labour market that could help to keep inflation high as companies raise wages to lure workers.
According to reports, reasons for quitting vary. Some well-paid workers are leaving their jobs because the pandemic has changed their priorities or because they are burned out.
Other workers are quitting because government benefits introduced during the pandemic mean they are not forced to risk their health at a precarious job paying peanuts in order to survive.
Whatever the motivation, the result is the same: the labour shortage is causing widespread disarray. In June, American Airlines just cancelled hundreds of flights, partly because of labour shortages among some of their vendors. Restaurants on both sides of the Atlantic are struggling to find enough workers to reopen.
While lockdowns and home offices have made many Americans consider a change, anyone thinking about leaving a job should do so thoughtfully and with intention, Mr Farnoosh Torabi, personal finance expert and editor at large at CNET Personal Finance, told Reuters.
“Sometimes we think we should quit…maybe we don’t see any other path. But sometimes that’s driven by fear, too,” Torabi said. “We’re afraid of confronting our employers and saying ‘Hey, I’m burned out. I need time off.’ We’re worried that might project some weakness or a sense of us not being a team player.”
“That does not make it any less important to take time to de-stress, especially if an overwhelming work environment drove you to resign in the first place – but do so with the mindset that you will be looking for work in the near future”, Torabi noted.