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Great Resignation: In which states are Americans quitting the most?

Rebecca Barnabi
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Amid the “Great Resignation,” Americans are quitting their jobs at record rates despite high inflation across the country.

And the trend signals a new way of working in America that is not likely to go away.

WalletHub ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on how frequently employees are leaving employment to provide an updated report on 2022’s States With the Highest Job Resignation Rates.

Americans are quitting the most in Georgia, followed by Kentucky, Tennessee, Arizona and Wyoming. The state where Americans are quitting the least is New York, followed by D.C., Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Minnesota. West Virginia is no. 7 on the list and California is no. 42.

Experts provided comment on factors influencing the shift in America’s labor force.

“Looking at Labor Force Participation Rate statistics, lower total LFPR is driven in a large part by older workers,” Assistant Professor at Bradley University Dr. Colin Corbett said in a press release. “Rates for younger workers have mostly recovered to their pre-pandemic levels, but are still significantly lower for those above 55. This is partially driven by the age profile of COVID victims, high asset prices helping retirement portfolios (although this has been largely reversed now), and the general difficulty of finding new work as an older worker.”

Jennifer Hunt, a professor of Rutgers at The State University of New Jersey, said that the reduction of immigration to the U.S. since 2017 is not getting necessary attention.

“In the post-Covid upturn, employers have not adapted to the slower growth of the labor force…the population growth was only 0.12 percent in 2021,” Hunt said in the press release.

How is the Great Resignation affecting American employers?

“It is clear that employers are struggling to attract workers. Many are raising wages, offering bonuses to new employees, or providing other inducements, Iowa State University Department of Economics Chair Joshua L Rosenbloom said in the press release. “This is one reason workers are leaving their jobs to take advantage of these inducements. But it has also made it hard for employers to meet demand. To some extent, employers want to avoid making permanent commitments to higher wages if the current conditions are temporary, so they may be expanding supply less and raising prices more.”

Corbett said the labor force resignation is increasing wages for employees.

“Employers have lost some bargaining power in the relationship, so workers are increasingly able to make demands of employers,” Corbett said.

And, remote work and the pandemic have their fair share of blame in the situation.

“Yes, the realization by employees that remote work actually works quite well, after two years of perfecting it, along with a tight job market, has led to many employees resisting going back to being in-person on a full-time basis,” University of California Merced Associate Professor Rowena Gray said. “The Delta and Omicron waves of COVID ensured that the delay in returning to offices was sufficiently long that people learned to work more efficiently in the new environment and rejigged their lives in many cases — investing in different housing and upgrading their homework setups so that now many employers are accepting that people will not return fulltime in-person. New arrangements have sprung up such as hotels catering to those visiting their workplace once a month for a few weekday nights at a time, which are also facilitating this transition to a new way of working that will not fully go away.”

According to Rosenbloom, the current tight labor market was “undoubtedly” influenced by the pandemic, lay-offs and early retirements.

“Remote work and the other disruptions caused by the pandemic have likely also contributed to many people reassessing their preferences for where they live and how they work, which has led to more turnover too,” Rosenbloom said.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.