What really happened in the ‘great resignation’ during the pandemic?

On Behalf of | Oct 30, 2023 | Employment Law -- Employer |

A recent exploration by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce parsed the numbers and came to some interesting conclusions. First, it wasn’t really a “great resignation” so much as a “great reshuffling” from some industries to others.

Second, some of it continues today, with some industries still seeing worker shortages and others with a surplus of workers in the field.

Finally, remote work continues to be a game changer, according to the article. Employees value it. In a Gallop poll, 91% of American workers hoped to continue working from home at least some of the time. And 30% said they would look for another job if they weren’t allowed to.

Between 2020 and spring 2021, more than half of white-collar workers in the U.S. were working at least part of the time from home. That number has dwindled somewhat as the pandemic ebbs, but the percentage of people working from home remains higher than before the pandemic.

Should employers consider continuing to offer remote work, when possible, in order to retain workers?

Which industries saw high quit rates? Turnover?

According to the Chamber, the leisure and hospitality sector had the highest quit rate (5%) in August 2023, followed by wholesale and retail trade, professional and business services, durable goods manufacturing and financial activities.

That closely follows the sectors you might expect to have had high turnover during the pandemic. Interestingly, however, while leisure and hospitality did have the highest quit rate, it also had a high hiring rate. In both that sector and wholesale and retail trade, hire rates have consistently outpaced quit rates. That indicates that those industries are constantly hiring but struggle to retain workers.

There is a significant shortage of labor in the durable goods manufacturing sector. The Chamber says that, even if every unemployed person with a manufacturing background were immediately hired, the manufacturing sector could only fill about 75% of the vacant jobs.

Meanwhile, there is actually a surplus of workers with construction backgrounds compared to the number of open construction jobs.

Which industries face labor shortages?

It’s a different list than the quit rate list, which is interesting. The report finds that financial activities and professional and business services are having the most trouble filling open positions, with each sector having about 55% of their open positions unfilled.

When considering office policies, it is important to look at the issue from a variety of perspectives, including a legal one. An attorney can spot issues with a policy proposal and help prevent legal issues from arising later.