Quits Rate among American Workers Back Down to Pre-Pandemic Levels

A bit more than a year into the covid-19 pandemic, management professor Anthony Klotz spoke to Bloomberg News and warned of a coming “Great Resignation.” For a time, it looked like an excellent call.

During the initial spread of Covid, switching jobs was rare. But coming out of the pandemic, with employers and households still flush with cash, the job market recovered at a record pace. Better jobs (and better-paying jobs) were created, workers took those jobs, and the overall employment situation in the U.S. improved.

As a result, the quits rate in the US, which is the percentage of employed people voluntarily leaving their jobs, rose to a record high in November 2021, according to a data series that started in December 2000. But it never got above 3%, which means the quits rate in fact wasn’t particularly great. According to research from the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, there have been six other episodes in the 20th century where workers switched jobs at similar rates.

Now the rate is even less great. As of April 2023, it has fallen to 2.4%, in line with the quits rate that existed in 2019.