newsthe great resignation as trend slows report reveals states with highest quit rates

‘The Great Resignation’: As trend slows, report reveals states with highest quit rates

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Amid high inflation, Americans continue to quit their jobs in the “Great Resignation.”

The term was coined by Anthony Klotz, a professor at the UCL School of Management and Texas A&M University, in May 2021 to describe a work trend he predicted would come from the COVID-19 pandemic.

WalletHub released its report on 2023’s States with the Highest Job Resignation Rates. The 50 states and Washington, D.C. are ranked based on how frequently Americans leave their jobs.

Kentucky employees are quitting the most at a rate of 3.6 percent in the last month, followed by Georgia, Montana, Alaska and South Carolina.

Virginia, at no. 43, has the ninth lowest job resignation rate in the United States with 2.10 percent in the last month. In the past 12 months, the Commonwealth’s rate was 2.65 percent.

Employees in Massachusetts are quitting the least at 1.5 percent, followed by New York, New Jersey, D.C., and Pennsylvania.

Dr. Benjamin Biermeier-Hanson, assistant professor at Radford University, said the main factors influencing this shift in the labor force have been consistent.

“Burnout, often as a result of an unsustainable workload, lack of opportunity for advancement, and poor leadership are all reasons why employees resign,” Biermeier-Hanson said. “In addition, people often quit because they can find another job. The COVID-19 pandemic led to more opportunities for people to find another job, often at a significantly higher salary in many industries. Finally, the pandemic led some to reevaluate how their values aligned with their work, whether that related to an organization’s mission or to the degree to which employees viewed work as central to other aspects of life, such as family or other interests. So basically, we have a sum of more macro factors (broader economic environment and opportunities combined with personal situations and decision-making.”

According to Lotte Bailyn, Professor Emerita at MIT, Americans are voluntarily leaving jobs as a protect against working conditions.

“The lower wage schedule, especially in service, has to do with unpredictable schedules which create confusion and an inability to plan for child care or any other responsibilities a person has. At higher income levels, particularly in corporate jobs, people are objecting to the routinization of work, to demands for the office or office work by employers without consultation with workers, by lack of meaning, not feeling valued, and having no voice in decisions. Given the current labor market, people feel they can find other jobs which have better conditions and are willing to take the risk of leaving. Other responses to working conditions are unionization attempts at unexpected places,” Bailyn said.

Florida State University Professor Wayne Hochwarter said the decrease in labor force participation has required employers to rethink processes and question if they can stay in business.

“Currently, more American companies are closing because of a lack of workers rather than a lack of business…Demand for products and services is way up, and the number of people doing the work is way down. At some point, employees reach a breaking point. Virtually all storefronts and backs of semi-trucks are soliciting help. Currently, it is not going well. Companies recognize that they cannot count on an available workforce, and no backups are available. Instead, they have pursued technologies to fill many of the tasks previously held by people, even in service positions that have historically relied on face-to-face interactions,” Hochwarter said.

Bailyn said that employers could use the situation as an opportunity to rethink expectations about work and carefully consider the needs of employees.

“This could be a win-win situation, even with unions, if employers would consider their workforce not as interchangeable commodities but as unique individuals with skills and talents they can benefit from, given conditions that recognize their value and provide them with respect and voice,” Bailyn said.

In early February 2023, CNBC reported that Klotz said “the Great Resignation” would end this year after more than 4 million Americans quit each month in 2022.

Christine N. O’Brien, a retired professor from Boston College, said that most employees will return to the workforce to support themselves and their families.

“But some employees may reject employers that limit or exclude remote work, preferring to seek employment with employers that are more flexible about working from home,” she said.

Biermeier-Hanson said forecasting the future of “the Great Resignation” is difficult with a broader economic climate change in the last six to 12 months and prominent layoffs happening in leading job sectors.

“So, as it relates to the ‘pull’ factors, such as the opportunity of other jobs, we may see people resign less due to fewer options. At the same time, the individual and organizational level factors, such as burnout and lack of support, have not changed for many. Ultimately, I would speculate that we will see a slowdown in resignations – those who can leave and desire to still will, but the opportunities for as many to do so may decrease shortly,” Biermeier-Hanson 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.