Last Updated Aug 3, 2011 8:56 AM EDT
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.
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.
- In a July report from the Institute for Work Life Policy, about half of men said they felt they had stalled out in their jobs.
- A recent survey by Right Management, the consulting arm of staffing group Manpower, found that 84 percent of employees said they planned to look for a new job in 2011. That's compares to 60 percent of workers who said they were planning to look for a new job a year ago.
- Other surveys, such as one by Mercer, have found that "only" about a third of workers are looking for new jobs. Even that smaller figure represents a huge number of folks eyeing the exit.
How is the job market in your industry? Are you looking to move on?
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Kimberly Weisul is a freelance writer, editor, and editorial consultant. Follow her on twitter at www.twitter.com/weisul