Record numbers are quitting — but, vast majority like their jobs


A record share of American workers are quitting their jobs, thanks in part to a strong economy and a labor shortage.

Does that mean Americans are unhappy with where they work?

The answer would seem to be yes…That’s the narrative driving the Great Resignation, in which workers are simply fed up with their current jobs and demanding something better.

Survey data I’ve been collecting during the pandemic, along with social survey results from previous years, however, suggests this is far from the whole story. Rather than being motivated simply by dissatisfaction, it appears many of them are simply taking advantage of a strong economy to look around, while for others, the pandemic has prompted them to consider their options.

The General Social Survey, a reputable national survey of American adults, has been asking workers questions about how they feel about the quality of their working life since 2002…(and) by and large the vast majority of Americans – at least according to this survey – express moderate to high satisfaction with their work.

But all in all, the survey data doesn’t support the common narrative that it’s a “take this job and shove it” economy, in which increasingly unhappy workers are finally sticking it to their managers.

But, it does appear that enough folks are sufficiently impressed with the potential for changing jobs…even if that percentage has diminished slightly…they are going to look around. Maybe jump ship!

5 thoughts on “Record numbers are quitting — but, vast majority like their jobs

  1. Downscale worker says:

    Why the sudden revolt against work?
    Over many decades, the American economy has depended on a seemingly endless supply of workers (documented and not) willing to work for the sometimes parsimonious wages on offer in our advanced, globally-integrated, highly competitive, and skills-biased economy. If employees didn’t like conditions, well, there was always someone else anxious to take the work.
    Then, along came an invisible hand (in the form of a lethal virus) that uncovered some hidden truths: there are a lot of jobs in America that are hard, sometimes dirty, and, especially in a pandemic, downright dangerous. What this adds up to in the unsettled, post-COVID-19 environment, is record job quits and a big gap between the number of jobs on offer – mainly in entry-level service, retail, and manufacturing – and workers willing to fill them. Meatpacking, perhaps unsurprisingly, is one of those occupations.
    Not surprisingly high product demand plus labor-constrained supply shortages are the central cause of rapid price increases for meat that are contributing significantly to the general inflation plaguing American consumers. Beef is up 20 percent over the past year with poultry, pork and eggs not far behind.
    Meanwhile four large firms control up to 85% of meat supply in the U.S. and last quarter their gross profits collectively went up by more than 120% compared to 2019, and net income by 500%.
    Emsi, the labor market data analysis firm, reports that postings for open positions in meatpacking are up by two-thirds in the past year, and some businesses are offering sign-on bonuses exceeding $3,000. Wages are also rising with some firms paying up to $20 per hour for entry-level meatpackers as the meat industry seeks to increase its access to agricultural worker visas.

  2. Manuel Labor says:

    “Quiet quitting, real quitting, unionizing — what else are American workers up to?”
    Among other things: “Only about 10% of U.S. workers belonged to a union as of early 2022. At the same time, the level of public support for unions has been growing for over a decade.
    This summer, 71% of Americans told Gallup they approve of unions, a level not seen since 1965. Labor experts say support is even higher with younger people, potentially growing a new generation of organizers.”

    • Modern Times says:

      “The economics behind ‘quiet quitting’ — and what we should call it instead” (NPR)
      “…A recent investigation by the New York Times [link] finds “eight of the 10 largest private U.S. employers track the productivity metrics of individual workers, many in real time.” And they document a surge in companies investing in “digital productivity monitoring” to oversee their white-collar employees. “Many employees, whether working remotely or in person, are subject to trackers, scores, ‘idle’ buttons, or just quiet, constantly accumulating records. Pauses can lead to penalties, from lost pay to lost jobs.”

  3. Casey says:

    Freight railroads and labor unions are working through the weekend to hammer out a new contract to avoid a strike that could snarl supply chains, disrupt agricultural deliveries and cost the US economy more than $2 billion a day, rail officials said.
    Railroads have advised customers of some potential service disruptions starting on Monday if talks don’t progress ahead of a potential walkout on Sept. 17. Six Class I freight railroads will begin to take steps to “manage and secure” shipments of some hazardous or sensitive materials starting Monday, the Association of American Railroads, a trade group, said in a statement.
    Railroads and workers have faced years of challenging negotiations, which began in January 2020, shortly after the labor contract froze at 2019 levels. After the National Mediation Board failed to carve out an agreement earlier this summer, the Biden administration appointed a team that issued recommendations including wage increases and expanded health coverage.
    While 10 of 12 railroad workers’ unions have struck new labor deals, the two holdouts — the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers — account for more than 90,000 rail employees.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.