More quitting jobs within first year


More Americans are quitting their jobs than ever in the U.S., and fewer are sticking around in their new positions.

Among workers who took a new job in 2021, the share who had been in their previous position for less than 12 months rose by 6.5% compared with a year earlier, data compiled by LinkedIn show.

This job-jumping metric is at the highest it’s been since 2016, when LinkedIn started tracking it. That helps explain why job openings remain at record highs in the country two years into the pandemic: A rising number of people who left their employers in search for better working conditions elsewhere reconsidered and quit again soon after.

Laurel Camirand was one of them. Feeling undervalued working at a treatment center for men recovering from mental-health issues and substance abuse, she left last September to become a program director in a similar field at another company.

Camirand moved about 30 miles to North Chelmsford, Mass., for the new job. It only took two months for the 28-year-old to question her decision. She wasn’t well supported by her manager. Employees were covering for one another on their time sheets, and when she confronted them about it, they pushed back and threatened to leave.

At first, she tried to stick it out, but she became withdrawn from work and isolated in her office. She quit within six months.

“At the end of the day, you spend most of your life working,” Camirand said. “It sucks to be miserable.”

The millions of job openings created by the recovery, combined with the widespread adoption of remote work, has given many Americans the possibility of switching employers.

Getting higher pay has been one of the driving factors, but many also sought better benefits, more flexible hours or the option to work from home. Young Americans entering the workforce now are much more attuned to their mental health and would rather be happy than grind it out — a major cultural shift from generations’ past.

LinkedIn figures show that the share of people jumping to another place in less than a year rose the fastest in industries that have been upended by the covid crisis: accommodation, entertainment, as well as hospitals and health care. But it’s on the rise elsewhere — from education to retail and administrative jobs. One major sector has seen a drop in that metric: financial services.

The dataset — based on more than 500,000 job changes in 2021 — doesn’t discern whether people quit or were let go. But there’s strong evidence to suggest most left voluntarily, said Guy Berger, principal economist at LinkedIn. Quit rates are at a record high while layoffs hover around all-time lows, according to government data.

“It stands to reason that it’s much more likely that people are faced by better opportunities,” Berger said. “There aren’t that many layoffs out there. It’s a really hot labor market.”

Job switchers have had better luck getting a raise, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Hourly wages climbed 5.6% in April for those who moved to a new job, on a 12-month moving average, compared with a 4.2% gain for those who stayed put. That creates a strong incentive to jump at a time when decades-high inflation has been eating into recent wage gains.

LendingTree found an even higher increase of 11% on average for workers who took new jobs that entailed a relocation within the U.S., based on an analysis of Census Bureau data at the end of 2020, the latest available at that level.

While it may be tempting to jump for money, that doesn’t necessarily solve other issues, said Jamie McLaughlin, founder and chief executive officer of recruiting agency Monday Talent. And with so many people interviewing for positions remotely, it’s hard to get a good feel for what office culture is like.

“We get a lot of people who come to us after two months, three months, even two weeks sometimes, and just say, ‘I made a mistake,'” McLaughlin said. “That conversation has become even more apparent as a result of the pandemic and the change in the working environment.”

There may be signs that job switching is leveling off. Wages grew at a slower rate in April, and the ratio of workers who change employers to the total number of employed people — known as the employment-to-employment rate — appears to have peaked, according to Bloomberg Economics.

Other indicators point in the same direction. The share of small businesses reporting job openings that are hard to fill peaked in September and has slid since, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. Similarly, those planning to raise compensation hit a high at the end of last year.

Camirand hopes her job-switching journey is coming to an end. She picked up a few part-time jobs and eventually got into human resources and recruiting, drawn by the connection she makes with candidates and helping them advance in their careers. While she doesn’t love the industry she’s currently recruiting for, the actual work itself is fulfilling.

“I heard it takes three-four major job changes before you find the one,” Camirand said. “I feel I’m nearing the one.”


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