News and Analysis

New Survey Shows Reasons Workers Quit Jobs In 2021
Low Section Of Person With Text On Paper Audtakorn Sutarmjam / EyeEm via Getty Images
Audtakorn Sutarmjam / EyeEm via Getty Images

A new study shows some reasons behind why millions of workers quit their jobs over the past year.

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a wave of people leaving their jobs, in a move that has been labeled “The Great Resignation.”

According to a new survey by Pew Research Center, 63% of people said they quit their job because the pay was too low, with 37% of those stating it was a “major reason.” 63% also noted that they quit because there were no opportunities for advancement, with 33% pointing to that as a primary factor. 

The survey also found that 57% said they quit because they felt disrespected at work. Among people who have children below the age of 18 and living at home, 48% said they quit because of child care issues. 

Flexibility was also a reason, with 45% saying they quit was because there wasn’t “enough flexibility to choose when to put in hours,” and 43% said the benefits weren’t good. The amount of work was also a factor for people, with 39% saying they were working too many hours and 30% saying they were working too few hours. Additionally, 35% said they wanted to move to a different area. 

Overall, it appears as if the pandemic at least spurred the idea in workers’ minds that they could move away from working in a field or at a company where they didn’t want to be. The additional factor of government spending and aid directed at individuals over the course of the pandemic also likely played a role, as Americans found themselves with additional funds to reconsider their job goals. 

The choice to leave one’s job varied by levels of education, as well. Those who had a bachelor’s degree or higher were less likely to say a reason was that there was not enough flexibility to choose when they put in hours (34%) as were those who had completed some college or less, including those who had an associate degree and people who went to college, but didn’t get a degree (49%). Those with at least a bachelor’s degree were less likely to say they left because they were working too few hours (17%) as those with a lower level of degree (35%). Those with some college or less also pointed to quitting over their employer requiring a vaccine (21%) more often than those with a higher degree (8%).

When it comes to whether or not workers are happy with their decision to leave their job, the study showed that many of them are content with the choice.

“At least half of these workers say that compared with their last job, they are now earning more money (56%), have more opportunities for advancement (53%), have an easier time balancing work and family responsibilities (53%) and have more flexibility to choose when they put in their work hours (50%),” Pew noted.

“Still, sizable shares say things are either worse or unchanged in these areas compared with their last job. Fewer than half of workers who quit a job last year (42%) say they now have better benefits, such as health insurance and paid time off, while a similar share (36%) says it’s about the same. About one-in-five (22%) now say their current benefits are worse than at their last job,” the report added. 

Education also appears to be a factor as those with a college degree are more likely than those with less education to say that “compared with their last job, they are now earning more (66% vs. 51%) and have more opportunities for advancement (63% vs. 49%).”

However, more people who obtained a lower level of education say it is now easier for them to balance work and family responsibilities (55%) than those with a higher level of education (48%).

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