Time to Quit Your Job? Record Numbers of People Say Yes

Last Updated Aug 3, 2011 8:56 AM EDT

Is now the time to leave your job? With unemployment hovering just above 9 percent, the obvious answer would seem to be, "No way."

Millions of people are turning their backs on the obvious answer, leaving their jobs in record numbers, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics figures quoted in a recent story from Bloomberg News. In May, almost two million Americans quit their jobs voluntarily, up 35 percent from January 2010.

The Bloomberg story points out that generally, job-hopping is a sign of an improving economy. I would love for that to be true, but I think it's only part of the story.
  • Growth in gross domestic product has recently slowed
  • Unemployment has been stubbornly high.
  • Consumer confidence is up from 2009 (thank goodness), but, as measured by the Conference Board, it's still relatively low, at 59.5.
The optimists would point out that the stock market has rebounded significantly since the depths of the financial crisis, and that the Institute of Supply Management's July manufacturing report shows that manufacturing has improved for the 24th straight month.

More than the economy
My guess, though, is that something else seems to be at work. This recession has been worst for those who've lost their jobs, of course. But many of those who are still employed are having a very tough time. They suffer so-called survivor's guilt, they're shouldering the work of their missing colleagues, and they wonder who's going to be laid off next. Wage freezes are common. Many employees would love the kind of fresh start that a new job can provide, but they haven't been able to move.

The longer folks stay in these unpleasant conditions, the more alluring other companies start to look. They also start to outgrow their current jobs or get a bit stale in them, a situation few people enjoy.
At some point, those who can move on do exactly that, even if they're not headed to their dream job. They're headed out-and for now, that's good enough.

How is the job market in your industry? Are you looking to move on?

RELATED Image courtesy of flickr user fuzzcat
Kimberly Weisul is a freelance writer, editor, and editorial consultant. Follow her on twitter at www.twitter.com/weisul
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    Kimberly Weisul is the co-founder of One Thing New, the free email newsletter for smart, busy women. She was previously Senior Editor at BusinessWeek, responsible for all coverage of entrepreneurship and for launching BusinessWeek SmallBiz, a bimonthly magazine. She is also a freelance writer, editor and editorial consultant.

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