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!

One thought 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.

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