1 in 7 workers are quitting this fall

Updated September 20, 2021

Key Findings

  • 15% of the workforce is planning to quit their job between September and December 2021
  • 1 in 5 haven’t decided if they want to quit
  • 40% of computer and IT employees are quitting between August and December 2021
  • 1 in 5 Millennials are planning to resign in the coming months, the most of any age group
  • Among workers who don’t plan on quitting, 58% would consider leaving it if offered better salary and benefits elsewhere
  • 19% of those not planning to leave their job will do so if they are required by their employer to get the COVID-19 vaccine

A new survey of American workers from ResumeBuilder.com shows that “The Great Resignation” is far from over.

To determine whether the 2021 job exodus will be waning in the coming months and, if not, what percentage of the workforce is still planning to quit, in August, we surveyed 1,250 currently employed U.S. adults. Among other things, we asked if they’re planning to quit before 2021 and if so, why.

15% of the workforce is planning to quit before the new year

Fifteen percent of the individuals we surveyed intend to resign between September and December 2021. An additional 22% are undecided, meaning even more employee turnover is possible later this year or in early 2022.

September will see the highest number of resignations at 39%. Twenty percent plan to quit in October and 17% in November; 25% are waiting until December.

According to career counselor Stacie Haller, who has over 30 years of experience in staffing and recruiting, workers who plan on quitting their job in the coming months should use this time to prepare.

“Before quitting a job, it’s smart to plan for a smooth transition,” she says. “It’s important to leave your current employer on excellent terms, as this will solidify your own reputation as a professional. Also, those who are quitting before landing another position must be prepared financially for the time they will be job-searching.”

Majority quitting to seek better pay, benefits

Our survey found that better pay and benefits are the primary motivator among those quitting with 50% choosing this option.

According to Haller, those individuals are making a wise choice.

“This is an excellent time to seek out a better-paying job,” she says. “We are seeing, particularly in industries that are experiencing labor shortages, companies that are figuring out ways to attract and retain their workforce, including offering higher wages and perks like college tuition.”

Haller adds that opportunities are ripe for workers who want to transition to different career fields with higher earning potential, saying that in the right situation, soft skills are currently more valuable than hard, career-specific skills.

Other top reasons why people are seeking new employment opportunities are starting their own business (44%), looking for remote work (43%) and finding a job about which they are more passionate (41% ).

Computer & IT industry will see the most employee turnover

Across industries, managers in computer and information technology can expect to receive the most letters of resignation in the coming months. Forty percent of employees in this field either already quit in August 2021 or are planning to quit by year’s end.

Other fields that are seeing noteworthy numbers of resignations are business and finance (24%), healthcare (18%), food and hospitality (16%), education (15%), construction (13%) and retail (8%).

Resignations are high in the computer and IT field in large part because this industry draws employees who aren’t afraid of change, says Haller.

“Traditionally, IT workers are looking for new technologies to work on, to be on the cutting edge,” she says. “They are also used to looking for gig work, so changing positions is more common and less stressful for this cohort.”

Entrepreneurial spirit high among IT, construction workers

The reasons for leaving current jobs vary somewhat by industry. Seventy percent of workers from the computer and IT industry are starting their own businesses. This is also the top reason why employees in the construction industry are quitting their jobs (56%).

For employees in business and finance, the prospect of returning to in-person work may be influencing their decision to quit. Echoing Haller’s assessment that these individuals like remote work, 64% of business and finance workers are resigning to find remote work.

Interestingly, so are 53% of people who work in the education industry, indicating that for some educators, teaching online is preferable to being in a classroom.

However, the top reason why employees in the education field are quitting is to find a better-paying job, with 80% of workers selecting this as the reason they are leaving. This is also the number one reason for workers in healthcare (66%) and food and hospitality (58%).

For people working retail, finding a job about which they are more passionate is the top reason why they are quitting (60%).

Men planning to quit at twice the rate of women

Male respondents are roughly twice as likely as female respondents to plan on quitting before the end of the year, by a rate of 20% to 11%. However, 26% of women are undecided about whether they will quit, compared to 17% of men.

For men, the top reason why they are quitting their current jobs is to start their own businesses (55%). Meanwhile, 53% of women are resigning to find a job that has a better salary and benefits.

Our survey also found that more men than women are looking for remote work (50% compared to 34%), and 37% of men are quitting their jobs to care for children, compared to 26% of women.

Rates of quitting highest among workers ages 35-44

Twenty percent of people ages 35-44 are planning on quitting between September and December, the most of any age group.

For other age groups, the percentage ranges from 16% (25-34 year-olds) to 10% (employees 55 and older).

The top reasons why individuals are quitting their jobs vary by age. Younger adults are seeking better pay and benefits (53%), and also want to find jobs about which they are passionate (47%). Millennials are focusing on entrepreneurship, with 59% saying they are leaving their current job to start their own businesses. Meanwhile, 63% of Gen Xers who are looking to work from home permanently, and are seeking remote jobs.

This willingness to switch jobs among younger employees is not surprising to Haller.

“Younger adults earlier in their careers have more flexibility in terms of changing jobs, since they are still on the lower end of salaries and compensation,” she says. “They aren’t encumbered with the tradition of staying with one company for decades. Instead, they place more importance on meaningful work, flexibility in their schedules and the avoidance of burnout.”

For those not planning on quitting, a higher salary could lure them to a new job

Among the workers who are not planning on quitting, or are undecided, 58% would consider leaving if they got a better salary offer from another job.

For those who are looking for a better salary offer, 33% say a 20% pay increase is the minimum salary increase they would need to leave their current job. Another 23% are holding out for a 30% raise. Nine percent of respondents will only consider quitting their job if they get an offer from another company that increases their salary by 50%.

Other top reasons why employees without plans to quit would consider taking a new job include not receiving a pay raise at their current job (27%); getting new leadership whose vision does not align with their own (27%), and getting passed up for a promotion (19%).

Companies that enact mandates for employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 may trigger some turnover as well. Nineteen percent of respondents who are not planning to leave their job will do so if they are required by their employer to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Gen Z willing to quit if they don’t get raises, promotions

Regardless of age, among employees who aren’t planning to quit, the top thing that could entice them to leave their current job is a better salary offer from another employer.

However, a high percentage of Gen Zers, who theoretically have the least amount of work experience, are also willing to walk if they get passed up for promotions or raises.

Thirty-five percent of 18-24 year-olds say not getting a pay raise would motivate them to quit, while 1 in 4 would do so if they didn’t get a promotion for which they were in the running.

These motivations are an extension of Gen Z’s attitudes about work, Haller says, and may be an indication of how work will continue changing in the future.

“Young adults have had very different work/life experiences than other generations, and their purview is just a reflection of that,” says Haller. “Gen Z does not have the ‘one company in a life’ attitude, and they know how they want work to fit into their life. These individuals grew up in a very different and changing world, and they are forging a new workforce, with new ways for how people work.”

Methodology

All data found within this report derives from a survey commissioned by ResumeBuilder.com and conducted online by survey platform Pollfish. In total, 1,250 adult Americans who are currently employed were surveyed. Appropriate respondents were found via a screening question. This survey was conducted on August 13, 2021. All respondents were asked to answer all questions truthfully and to the best of their abilities.

Reviewed by Stacie Haller

Stacie Haller has spent over 30 years in staffing and recruiting with decades of career counseling, job search coaching, recruiting and assisting and mentoring hundreds of candidates in finding their next step in achieving their career goals.