By Juliana Kaplan,Madison Hoff
Over 4 million Americans have handed in their resignation letters in each of the last ten months. According to the latest data release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, March was no exception — in fact, it was a new high.
A record-breaking 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in March, amounting to 3.0% of the workforce. It’s a trend that kicked off nearly a year ago in April 2021, when 4 million people said “I quit.”
At the same time, job openings are also at a record high, with 11.5 million vacancies. Businesses are also hiring at a steady clip, with 6.7 million workers hired in March. All told, it shows the current state of labor market reshuffling that’s been happening for nearly a year: Workers seem to know that they can quit and get hired elsewhere — and that’s exactly what they’re doing.
“The Great Resignation is still going strong, and is in full swing,” Daniel Zhao, senior economist at Glassdoor, told Insider.
For a year, workers and employers have been adjusting to a new post-vaccine reality. Some of that was initially due to “missing quits,” from workers who would’ve walked out earlier in a normal labor market, but waited for some stability amid financial precarity from the pandemic.
Workers began to “rage-quit” last summer over how they were treated and paid. Labor shortages began to crop up in low-paying industries like leisure and hospitality, where wages skyrocketed. One common refrain was that nobody wants to work anymore.
“I think really what the last few months has emphasized is this is not a labor shortage so much as a scramble for workers by employers,” Zhao said.
The data from BLS shows a continuing trend of robust hiring and quits, suggesting that workers are job switching rather than exiting the labor force entirely, and they’re often getting better pay in their new gigs. A survey from Pew Research Center found that over half of Americans who quit in 2021 and are employed are making more money than they did in their old role. New research from Glassdoor shows that job seekers’ expectations for pay in their new role has increased by 43% in the last year.
Some of that quitting — and higher salary expectations — might be contagious. A study from economists at MIT, the University of Cologne, the London School of Economics, and the University of California, Berkeley found that German workers, especially low-paid ones, often underestimate how much more they could make elsewhere. One potential scenario that could arise from workers’ becoming increasingly informed about how much they could make somewhere else is that those workers might quit or ask for more money.
“We’re just seeing people take advantage of the opportunities out there, the fast, nominal wage growth, and they’re switching jobs,” Nick Bunker, economic research director at Indeed Hiring Lab, told Insider.