The rate at which Americans quit their jobs hit a historic high this spring, and workers may not be done job-hopping this year.
More than a third of workers (37%) are either thinking of leaving their current jobs or are already preparing to make the move, according to a Yahoo Finance/Harris Poll survey of 1,639 U.S. adults conducted June 25-28, 2021. Four in five of the potential quitters (83%) want to make the move in the next six months, while the same percentage said they’ve been considering the move for the past year.
The top reasons why workers want to quit are better opportunities (46%), higher salary (42%), better work-life balance (34%), changing industries (27%), and not enjoying their work (27%). Survey respondents could select more than one reason.
“People are leaving for more attractive jobs because there are lots of attractive jobs on offer,” ZipRecruiter Economist Julia Pollak told Yahoo Money. “The share of signing bonuses has very radically exploded, the share of jobs offering a four-day workweek has also about doubled.”
Job quits show it's ‘an amazing time for many young people'
The survey results come after the rate at which workers quit their jobs hit a record high of 2.8% in April and remained historically elevated in May at 2.5% — much higher than before the pandemic. The number of job openings reached a high three months in a row from March to May — meaning workers have more options if they decide to leave.
Accommodation and food services along with retail trade had the largest quit rates in May of 5.7% and 4%, respectively, according to data by the Labor Department.
“There are many jobs where pay is low, and one doesn't have that much attachment to an employer,” Pollak said. “When suddenly warehousing and trucking and nursing are offering huge bonuses and reducing experience requirements and training requirements, they suddenly become much more attractive.”
Younger workers are more likely to consider quitting than older ones, according to the data. Nearly half of millennials (46%) and 36% of Gen Z are thinking of leaving their jobs, while just 31% of Gen Xers and 21% of baby boomers are contemplating the move.
“Younger people do switch jobs more frequently typically,” Pollak said, “But now… is an amazing time for many young people in the job market because many employers suffering from worker shortages are reducing the requirements for candidates, and so young people are becoming eligible for jobs that they may not have been able to get before.”
Retaining workers with ‘the things that people care about most’
While quitting is on the rise, retaining workers may not be that hard.
A 10% increase in annual salary would convince 37% of workers to stay with their current employer, the survey found. That syncs with other data on what workers want. For instance, workers’ earnings expectations reached a historic high in March 2021 of $72,341, according to the latest data available by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Employers can also retain workers by improving their benefits package — according to 32% of workers — including such perks as health insurance, retirement savings plan, stock options or by providing more time off, which 23% of workers selected.
“We see an enormous preference for remote work,” Pollak said, “but, in general, historically, the things that people care about most are pay, benefits, and growth potential in a job.”