What jobs are people quitting?

The past couple of years have seen a dramatic shift in the labor market, with record numbers of workers quitting their jobs. This phenomenon has been dubbed “The Great Resignation” and has left many employers struggling to retain staff. But what exactly is causing this mass exodus? And what jobs are people leaving in droves?

Why are people quitting their jobs?

There are a few key factors driving The Great Resignation:

  • Burnout – Many workers are burnt out after working long hours through the pandemic. With boundaries between work and home blurred, people are looking to restore a better work-life balance.
  • Lack of flexibility – The pandemic forced new flexible and remote working arrangements. Many people don’t want to give up that flexibility and are quitting rather than returning to rigid office environments.
  • Rethinking priorities – Facing their mortality during COVID-19 caused many to re-evaluate their priorities and make career changes to do more meaningful work.
  • Toxic work cultures – Some workplaces have unhealthy or toxic cultures that employees no longer want to tolerate.
  • Higher pay expectations – With rising costs of living, people expect higher pay. Rather than asking for raises, many are quitting for higher paying opportunities.

Essentially, workers are burnt out and seeking more money, flexibility, and fulfillment in their jobs. When their current employers fail to provide that, they’re choosing to quit.

Which sectors are being hit hardest?

While resignations are up across the board, some sectors have been hit harder than others. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, over the past year resignation rates have increased sharply in:

  • Accommodation and food services – Up 6.4% year-over-year
  • Retail – Up 4.4%
  • Health care and social assistance – Up 3.6%
  • Professional and business services – Up 3.3%
  • Manufacturing – Up 2.7%

Low wages, demanding hours, and high stress levels have led to mass resignations from frontline service sector jobs in particular. Healthcare workers also continue resigning due to pandemic burnout.

Which roles and occupations are people leaving?

Looking more closely at the data, a few key roles stand out as having extremely high resignation rates currently:

Food service workers

Resignations in accommodation and food services are up 19% year-over-year. Roles like fast food workers, waiters, bartenders, and hosts are experiencing huge churn.

Retail workers

In retail, cashiers and salespeople are quitting in masses, with resignation rates up nearly 10%.

Nurses and healthcare workers

Burnout has led to sky-high resignation rates among nurses, nursing assistants, and other healthcare support roles. Hospitals are struggling to maintain staffing levels.

Truck drivers

The trucking industry is facing a massive shortage, with turnover rates in some trucking companies nearing 100%. Long haul truckers are resigning for less stressful, higher paying driving jobs.


Teacher resignations are up 18% from 2020 to 2021. Exhaustion from pandemic teaching, low pay, and poor working conditions are causing teachers to leave the profession entirely.

Factory workers

Manufacturing resignations grew by 36% in 2021. Line workers and machinists are exiting for less demanding, better compensated jobs.

Office workers

While resignations in frontline service roles has captured headlines, office workers in corporate jobs are also handing in resignations due to desire for remote work flexibility and reconsidering their careers.

Which generation is quitting the most?

Research from Microsoft found that 41% of Generation Z workers (those born after 1996) and 35% of millennials (born 1981 to 1996) planned to quit their jobs within the next year. With these younger generations making up a larger portion of the workforce, their mass exodus is having an outsized impact.

However, resignation rates have risen across all age groups. A recent Gallup poll found the percentage of engaged workers who plan to stay with their employer for at least a year has fallen dramatically across all generations:

  • Gen Z: Down 17% since 2020
  • Millennials: Down 15% since 2020
  • Gen X: Down 10% since 2020
  • Baby Boomers: Down 9% since 2020

While younger generations are leading the movement, broad dissatisfaction with current jobs has inspired resignations across age demographics.

How long might resignations stay elevated?

Some economists believe employee leverage and “job-hopping” could persist for years in today’s labor market. However, there are a few factors that point to resignations potentially slowing in 2022 and 2023:

  • Savings depleted – Many who quit in 2021 – 2022 did so using savings built up during the pandemic. Those reserves are dwindling for most.
  • Hiring freezes – If macroeconomic conditions worsen, many companies may resort to hiring freezes, reducing options for those looking to switch jobs.
  • Recession concerns – As recession concerns rise, workers may become more risk-averse about quitting stable jobs.

On the flip side, ongoing mismatch between employer needs and employee expectations could continue to fuel turnover. Much remains uncertain. But it’s clear that for now, the power remains in the hands of job seekers in many industries.


In summary, burnt-out and unfulfilled workers across sectors are empowered to resign like never before. Frontline service workers, lower paid healthcare roles, teachers, truck drivers, and factory workers are experiencing some of the highest turnover. But even more lucrative white collar jobs are seeing historic resignations, as today’s workforce redefines priorities. With savings built up and plentiful opportunities still available, the Great Resignation may have some ways left to run before stabilization kicks in.

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