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The industries where workers are quitting their jobs in droves

January 12, 2023
RossHelen // Shutterstock

The industries where workers are quitting their jobs in droves

Much has been made of the Great Resignation—the mass exodus of American workers from their jobs since COVID-19 hit. Although the pandemic was initially characterized by mass layoffs, those who kept their jobs began examining the role of work in their lives as COVID endured.

Working people noticed they were burning out trying to juggle work and family responsibilities as never before. Many came to realize they were being underpaid and unfairly treated, leaving their jobs in search of better conditions or opting out of the workforce entirely. That trend shows no sign of slowing down, although not all industries have been affected evenly.

Stacker used preliminary October 2022 Bureau of Labor Statistics data to rank the 17 major employment sectors by their quit rates, which BLS calculates as the number of quits during the month as a percentage of total employment. The analysis also includes the number of people who quit in that industry and the quit rate change from October 2021.

The overall quit rate for October 2022 was 2.6%, with more than 4 million U.S. workers quitting their jobs. That rate is about the same, if not slightly down, compared to the previous year. Of the 17 industries represented on this list, five saw an increase in the overall quit rate in late 2022 compared to the previous year. For example, while circumstances may have caused about 58,000 musicians and entertainers to quit in May 2021, the level went up to 80,000 by October 2022.

Find out which industries have workers quitting their jobs in droves below.

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#17. Federal government

- October 2022 quit rate: 0.7% (-0.2 percentage points since 2021)
- October 2022 quit count: 20,000

A higher number of federal workers than usual are leaving their jobs—and surveys of these workers say several factors are at play. One is the typically low pay for most government work. But workers cite other factors influencing their decision to quit as well—among them a perceived lack of respect at work, in addition to lack of opportunities for advancement.

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#16. Information

- October 2022 quit rate: 0.9% (-1.1 percentage points since 2021)
- October 2022 quit count: 28,000

Many information workers have been quitting their jobs since the pandemic began. Some of them are no doubt in the movie and publishing industries, which had to shift rapidly to adapt to restrictions on group gatherings. And many IT professionals were allowed to work remotely during the pandemic, and either changed jobs to take advantage of newly available opportunities, or decided to avoid requirements to return to in-person work by finding new employers.

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#15. State and local education

- October 2022 quit rate: 1.0% (No change)
- October 2022 quit count: 107,000

Many teachers and other school workers are leaving their posts. The pandemic vastly changed the experience of teaching in schools, thanks to the challenges of teaching over Zoom and pressure from large numbers of people out on sick leave, as well as intermittent school closings. More than half of public school teachers are considering leaving teaching due to burnout from these pandemic-wrought challenges, according to a February 2022 report from NBC News.

Professional woman at standing desk in office.
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#14. State and local government

- October 2022 quit rate: 1.2% (-0.1 percentage points since 2021)
- October 2022 quit count: 108,000

Just as with federal employees, state and local government workers are also leaving their jobs in droves, with many of them reporting they are under-compensated compared to the local labor market. To these workers, this reality is harmful to their family's financial health. In one survey, 1 in 3 public sector employees report that they would have difficulty paying an unexpected $400 bill in an emergency.

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#13. Educational services

- October 2022 quit rate: 1.4% (-0.1 percentage points since 2021)
- October 2022 quit count: 52,000

Private-sector education workers, those who work at private schools, technical institutes, and universities, are quitting their jobs for many of the same reasons that those in public school systems are: The changes wrought by the pandemic have contributed to significant burnout and dissatisfaction. And many teachers are finding their skills valued by corporations, who are hiring former teachers, often with significantly boosted pay.

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Woman pointing to financial chart on computer screen.
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#12. Finance and insurance

- October 2022 quit rate: 1.5% (+0.4 percentage points since 2021)
- October 2022 quit count: 99,000

Although finance and insurance roles are typically well compensated, workers in these industries are quitting in search of a better quality of life, such as shorter work hours. "People [in finance and insurance] are evaluating the role of work in their lives differently," Qualtrics chief workplace psychologist Ben Granger told Fortune.

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#11. Wholesale trade

- October 2022 quit rate: 1.7% (-0.3 percentage points since 2021)
- October 2022 quit count: 101,000

Not only are workers quitting wholesale trade, but the companies that employ them are having a hard time filling these vacant roles. One potential reason? Significant supply chain delays, thanks to geopolitical instability and the COVID-19 pandemic.

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#9. Mining and logging (tie)

- October 2022 quit rate: 2.1% (+0.2 percentage points since 2021)
- October 2022 quit count: 13,000

The U.S. Energy Information Administration says lack of demand is the reason that coal production is down. Mining outposts shared shutdowns with logging companies, which weren't selling much lumber and couldn't find enough truckers either. However, the pendulum swung back and lumber companies raised production and costs in response to increasing demand—though that may shift again as the housing market cools.

Men working on manufacturing equipment.
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#9. Manufacturing (tie)

- October 2022 quit rate: 2.1% (-0.3 percentage points since 2021)
- October 2022 quit count: 268,000

Pressure to raise wages is increasing, especially in the manufacturing industry. While some factories are meeting the moment with better wage and benefit packages for their employees, others are watching their workers leave for greener pastures.

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#8. Real estate and rental and leasing

- October 2022 quit rate: 2.3% (+0.3 percentage points since 2021)
- October 2022 quit count: 54,000

When eviction moratoriums became a nationwide standard during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, property managers were hurt by the substantial loss in rental earnings. A lack of new tenants and a lack of income makes this job difficult to keep, especially as renters try to regain their financial footing following the economic downturn. Workers whose jobs are connected to home purchases and sales may also be seeking other work as mortgage interest rates climb.

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Overhead view of construction workers working on building.
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#7. Construction

- October 2022 quit rate: 2.4% (-0.1 percentage points since 2021)
- October 2022 quit count: 189,000

Material costs increased for construction companies, a direct connection to the hardships experienced by the mining and lumber industries. This cost increase resulted in major job losses during the pandemic, and now the construction industry is turning to President Biden's Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for relief at the federal level.

Health care worker writing on clipboard.
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#6. Health care and social assistance

- October 2022 quit rate: 2.5% (-0.1 percentage points since 2021)
- October 2022 quit count: 515,000

There are many issues surrounding the mass exodus of health care workers: the debate on requiring vaccinations for health care professionals and their patients, the extreme burnout from caring for COVID-19 patients, and the trauma of watching patients die from the virus.

Many nurses have already left the field, and a November 2022 survey found that half of remaining nurses are considering quitting their jobs.

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#5. Transportation, warehousing, and utilities

- October 2022 quit rate: 2.8% (+0.4 percentage points since 2021)
- October 2022 quit count: 197,000

Public transportation authorities were strapped for resources when the pandemic hit, needing to implement new cleaning and scheduling strategies as well as planning to regain future riders. Meanwhile, supply chain troubles held up warehousing, trucking, and rail shipping work.

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#4. Professional and business services

- October 2022 quit rate: 2.9% (-0.4 percentage points since 2021)
- October 2022 quit count: 655,000

This sector is broad, spanning managerial, technical, administrative, and even waste management services for businesses. It's an industry that carries a lot of weight, but managing a company is difficult, as evidenced by how many businesses have struggled in the past couple of years.

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#3. Arts, entertainment, and recreation

- October 2022 quit rate: 3.4% (+0.1 percentage points since 2021)
- October 2022 quit count: 80,000

Every concert and entertainment venue from Broadway to the House of Blues was temporarily closed in early 2020, so many musicians, actors, and entertainers had to quickly move on to other industries to maintain their usual income. While customer demand for events is climbing again, workers are still looking for more stability.

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#2. Retail trade

- October 2022 quit rate: 3.8% (-0.6 percentage points since 2021)
- October 2022 quit count: 606,000

Retail jobs are notorious for poor working conditions and low wages, and reports say that the pandemic only worsened the problem. Employees at grocery stores and pet stores were placed on the front lines without hazard pay, even when all other industries closed. Workers are wary of returning, with social media and news reports highlighting demanding customers treating retail employees poorly.

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#1. Accommodation and food services

- October 2022 quit rate: 5.8% (-0.1 percentage points since 2021)
- October 2022 quit count: 789,000

Food service workers were not exempt from the hardships experienced by retail workers. Many minimum wage jobs like these didn't transition well, leading workers to expect more pay to offset the increased hazards of their workplace. Companies are responding, but slowly, as their other costs also rise.

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