More Americans are leaving their jobs in the United States than ever before, and fewer are staying in their new positions.
Among workers who took on a new job in 2021, the share who had been in their previous position for less than 12 months rose 6.5% from a year earlier, according to data compiled by LinkedIn.
This job jump metric is at its highest since 2016, when LinkedIn started tracking it. This helps explain why job vacancies remain at record highs in the country two years into the pandemic: an increasing number of people who left their employers in search of better working conditions elsewhere have reconsidered and resigned shortly thereafter.
Laurel Camirand was one of them. Feeling undervalued at a treatment center for men recovering from mental health and addiction issues, she quit last September to become a program director in a similar field at another company.
Camirand moved about 30 miles to North Chelmsford, Massachusetts, for the new job. It only took the 28-year-old two months to question her decision. She was not well supported by her manager. The employees were covering for each other on their time sheets, and when she confronted them about it, they pushed back and threatened to leave.
At first she tried to hold on, but she withdrew from work and isolated herself in her office. She resigned after 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 working, have given many Americans the opportunity to change employers.
Earning a higher salary was one of the driving factors, but many also sought better benefits, more flexible hours or the ability to work from home. Young Americans entering the workforce are now much more mindful of their mental health and would rather be happy than be rid of it – a major cultural shift from generations past.
LinkedIn figures show that the share of people jumping somewhere else in less than a year has grown fastest in industries that have been disrupted 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 saw a drop in this metric: financial services.
The dataset – based on more than 500,000 job changes in 2021 – does not discern whether people quit or were made redundant. But there is strong evidence to suggest most left voluntarily, said Guy Berger, senior economist at LinkedIn. Quit rates are at an all-time high while layoffs are hovering around historic lows, government data shows.
“It stands to reason that people are much more likely to be faced with better opportunities,” Berger said. “There aren’t a lot of layoffs. It’s a very hot job market.”
People who change jobs were more likely to get a raise, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Hourly wages rose 5.6% in April for those who moved to a new job, on a 12-month moving average, compared with a gain of 4.2% for those who stayed put. That creates a strong incentive to pounce at a time when inflation, which has been high for decades, has eaten away at recent wage gains.
LendingTree found an even higher increase of 11% on average for workers who accepted new jobs involving relocation to the United States, based on an analysis of Census Bureau data at the end of 2020, the latest available at this level.
While it might be tempting to jump in for the money, it doesn’t necessarily solve other problems, said Jamie McLaughlin, founder and chief executive of staffing agency Monday Talent. And with so many people interviewing for positions remotely, it’s hard to get a good sense of what the 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. “This conversation has become even more evident as a result of the pandemic and the changing work environment.”
There may be signs that the job change is stabilizing. Wages rose at a slower pace in April, and the ratio of workers switching employers to the total number of people employed – known as the employment-to-employment rate – appears to have reached a high, according to Bloomberg Economics.
Other indicators point in the same direction. The share of small businesses reporting hard-to-fill job openings peaked in September and has since declined, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. Likewise, those planning to increase their compensation peaked late last year.
Camirand hopes his job-changing journey is coming to an end. She landed a few part-time jobs and eventually got into human resources and recruiting, attracted by the connection she makes with candidates and helps them grow in their careers. Although she doesn’t like the industry she is currently recruiting for, the job itself is fulfilling.
“I’ve heard it takes three or four major job changes before I find that one,” Camirand said. “I feel like I’m getting closer to that one.”