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Quitting is literally paying off for most workers, study finds

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The rate at which workers quit their jobs each month remains high, and data says it's actually working out for a lot of people. Getty Images

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The University of Michigan’s sentiment index has shown consumers are pretty downbeat, mainly due to inflation. 

Meanwhile, there are signs workers remain pretty upbeat, and keep quitting to find new jobs at near-record rates.

The rate at which workers quit their jobs each month has remained higher over the past year than any time going back to the 1970s, according to a report by the Pew Research Center. It’s a sign workers feel confident — that they can leave one job and find a new job pretty easily. 

And there’s another factor at play, said Pew researcher Rakesh Kochhar: “Being able to switch employers is paying off for workers.”

Pew looked at take-home pay – after accounting for inflation – for workers who switched jobs over the past year. “Sixty percent of workers who changed employers saw their real earnings increase,” Kochhar said.

Paychecks didn’t keep up with inflation for a majority of workers who stuck with the same employer.

And with employers still saying they’re desperate to hire and can’t find qualified candidates, Carl Van Horn at Rutgers University’s workforce development center anticipates workers will continue “quitting a job if they think there’s a better job down the street, in a different place. Asking their employers for more flexibility.”

Now, when people leave jobs voluntarily, they may not necessarily get another job right away. 

Rakesh Kochhar said, a month later, half are either unemployed, or have left the workforce.

“It may be maternal leave, to look after family at home. It may be you went back to school,” he said.

And increasingly since the pandemic hit, older workers have been leaving jobs and not coming back, but taking retirement instead.

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