- The quits rate in the U.S. is at an all-time high: the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 4 million quits in April 2021. This rate of quits (2.7%) is the highest recorded since BLS started collecting data for its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey in 2000.
- Total separations, which include layoffs, discharge, death, disability and internal transfers, increased to 5.8 million. The layoffs and discharges rate decreased to a series low of 1%.
- Quits increased most steeply in retail trade (+106,000), professional and business services (+94,000), and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+49,000). The South, the Midwest and the western U.S. in particular saw an increase in their number of quits.
Burnout may be the main culprit causing workers to quit their jobs, according to experts. A 2021 study by BambooHR found that about eight in 10 remote workers said their career development has been negatively affected over the past year. The top two factors cited were burnout (25%) and the task of re-negotiating work-life balance (25%).
Executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas underscored in its June 2021 press release how remote and non-remote workers have burnout-related reasons to quit. Those who could work from home were forced to overhaul their workflow. In turn, in-person employees had no choice but to toil in unsafe work conditions every shift.
Andrew Challenger, the senior vice president of global outplacement at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said, "Some workers may find new jobs simply to take an extended period of time off between the end of their former jobs and the start of the new ones."
Workers may feel compelled to take extended time off so that they qualify for unemployment benefits. This arrangement may be more appealing than clocking in every day, because working during the pandemic can harm one's mental health. (See: increased appeals for mental health guidance due to COVID-19-era career challenges.)
Challenger cites work stress and fatigue as a marginal contributing factor to the high unemployment rate.
"In many cases, these benefits [pay] better than the positions from which recipients were discharged. This factor, coupled with some others – child care needs or burnout, for example – could keep some people from finding new employment more quickly, especially if they can cover base expenses," Challenger said.
Considering the link between emotional well-being and retention, mental health continues to be a worthwhile investment for employers.