State Policy Network
The Great Resignation: why are so many Americans leaving their jobs?

The Great Resignation. The Great Reshuffling. The Big Quit. Whatever you call it, the employment shifts that have occurred over the last two years have left businesses struggling to find enough workers to survive.

The recent wave of SPN’s State Voices poll sheds some light on why people are leaving their jobs. Over the last 12 months, 28% of the voter workforce made a change in their job, with 11% leaving with no new job lined up.

Personal health issues (31%) and workplace challenges top this list of reasons why people left jobs without a new employer, one-in-five (20%) went on to start their own business. These entrepreneurs are disproportionately urban (36% in this group left to start a new business) and under 35 (32%) liberal (28%). Over one-in-ten who left their current job for employment did so because of workplace vaccine mandates (13%).

Many American voters also left their jobs for better ones. Nearly half of those who left a job for a different one in the last year cited better hours and better pay as the reason for moving on. Women are more likely to mention better pay as a reason for changes jobs (53%) than men (44%).

Employers cannot control external factors that take employees out of the workforce, like personal health issues. However, they can attract workers by offering the maximum amount of flexibility, including enough flex to be able to care for children or other family members while employed. Employers must also reexamine their compensation packages to ensure they are competitive in the post-COVID environment with record-breaking inflation. Government, for its part, must not saddle businesses with needless burdensome requirements that restrict how businesses can adapt to attract workers.