Americans Are Quitting Their Jobs at Record Rates. Should You?

by Maurie Backman | Published on July 21, 2021

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Happy businesswoman leaving job with box of belongings.

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Despite a shaky economy, workers are refusing to stick out jobs that don't work for them. Should you follow suit?

Though the U.S. economy is in much better shape than it was a year ago, new weekly jobless claims are still much higher than they were before the pandemic, and millions of jobs have yet to come back. In spite of that, Americans are quitting their jobs in droves.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 3.6 million workers quit their jobs in May. In April, 4 million people resigned.

What gives?

You'd think that given the state of the economy, people would be thankful for their jobs and do whatever it takes to hang onto them. But apparently, workers are tired of stagnant wages and poor job conditions, so they're going after better opportunities. This could explain the massive shortage of workers in the hospitality industry, which includes restaurant jobs. Such jobs pay notoriously low wages, and during a pandemic, the risks are high.

Should you quit your job?

If you're miserable at your job -- because you're unhappy with your wages or with the actual work -- then you may be considering resignation. But before you do that, there are some essential steps to take.

First, think about why you're unhappy at your existing job, and consider what you really want out of a new job -- you don't want to swap one lousy situation for another.

Next, try to line up another job so you're not out of work and without an income for too long. And if that's not possible, make sure you have a healthy amount of money in your savings account. While there are jobs to be had in today's economy, in some industries, they may not be abundant.

Remember, if you leave your job voluntarily, you generally aren't entitled to unemployment benefits. Those typically only come into play if you're laid off from a job due to no fault of your own. If you're going to be out of work for a while, you'll need money on hand to keep up with your expenses.

Time for a change

The coronavirus pandemic has led a lot of us to reconsider what's important and reset priorities. If your job is a major source of stress and unhappiness, then it's not unreasonable to want to quit. But go about it the right way so you don't land in a rough spot financially.

Finally, if you're going to leave your job, do so on a good note. You never know when you might need an old boss to serve as a reference, or when you may even need to come back (say, if your replacement job doesn't work out, or you don't eventually find one). Give adequate notice (ideally, at least two weeks' worth) and perform your best until you leave.

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