FinSyn Insights

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The Great Resignation: By the Numbers

I’ve found this subject of people quitting their jobs in record numbers over the last couple of years quite interesting. Last year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that 4.5 million Americans, or 3% of the entire workforce, quit their jobs in November of 2021.1

Although shocking at the time, November was just another record-breaking month in a string of record-breaking months. Named “The Great Resignation” by many, this phenomenon can be seen across nearly all industries.

Historically, it’s common to see a surge in worker resignations when the job market is tight, and there’s a cornucopia of open positions. But what’s happened recently is unlike anything economists and pollsters have seen before.

As financial and employment experts continue to debate the root causes of this exodus from the workforce, it can be difficult to visualize the full scope of the Great Resignation.

Here are some surprising facts from 2021 that may help:

  • 2.9 percent: the share of the nation’s workforce that quit in August
  • 4.8 percent: the U.S. unemployment rate last September, a pandemic low
  • 309,000: women 20 and older who dropped out of the workforce in September
  • 182,000: men who were added to the workforce in September
  • 108,700: drop in the number of child-care workers in September versus February 2020
  • 10.4 million: unfilled U.S. jobs (Labor Department)
  • 51 percent: business owners who said they have jobs openings they can’t fill2
  • 48 percent: the share of America’s working population actively looking for a job or watching for opportunities3
  • 61.6 percent: labor participation rate in September, versus 63.3 percent in February 2020
  • 4.3 million: jobs that have vanished with the pandemic-era decrease in labor participation4
  • 22: number of economists out of 52, who predicted labor participation will never return to pre-pandemic levels5
  • 40 percent: share of the 4.3 million people who quit in August from restaurant and hotel jobs6
  • 930,500: drop-in restaurant and bar jobs in September versus February 20207
  • 12.7 percent: increase in hourly pay at bars and restaurants in August versus February 20208
  • 7.3 percent: increase in the price of restaurant meals in September versus February 20209
  • 3.6 million: number of new retirees between February 2020 and June 202110

We are still in a record hot job market, so some of this shift is probably due to the ease in which one can find a new job right now. But another cause could simply be a change in family priorities or lifestyle due to the pandemic. Only time will tell.



Mike Minter

Mike develops investment portfolio allocations, handles trading and rebalancing, and conducts research and analysis as a Portfolio Manager and Financial Advisor for the firm. As a perpetual student of investing and the markets, Mike considers himself obsessed with the subject. Mike has earned the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) and Certified Fund Specialist® designations. He is also an active member of the Houston chapter of the Financial Planning Association (FPA).   Read Mike’s Profile HereRead More Articles by Mike

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