These industries are still battling the Great Resignation
These industries are still battling the Great Resignation
Much has been made of the Great Resignation—the mass exodus of American workers from their jobs in the aftermath of COVID-19.
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. Many workers burnt out juggling work and life and realized they were being underpaid and unfairly treated. They left their jobs to seek better work cultures or opted out of the workforce entirely.
The overall quit rate in February 2023 was 2.6%, with more than 4 million U.S. workers leaving their jobs. That level is higher than in 2019, especially in service industries. It is also slightly below the peak quit rate, which happened between fall 2021 and summer 2022.
Stacker used preliminary February 2023 Bureau of Labor Statistics data to rank the 17 major employment sectors by their quit rates, which the 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 change since February 2022.
Of the 17 industries represented on this list, five saw an increase in the overall quit rate in February 2023 compared to the previous year, while eight saw an increase in the volume of quits. Find out which industries have workers quitting their jobs in droves below.
#17. Federal government
- February 2023 quit rate: 0.7% (-0.1 percentage points since 2022)
- February 2023 quit count: 20,000 (-2,000 since 2022)
The public sector traditionally has seen lower rates of workers quitting than private sector industries. Yet more federal workers than usual continue to leave 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 a lack of opportunities for advancement.
#15. Finance and insurance (tie)
- February 2023 quit rate: 0.9% (-0.6 percentage points since 2022)
- February 2023 quit count: 58,000 (-43,000 since 2022)
Although finance and insurance roles are typically well compensated, workers in these industries are quitting for 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.
#15. State and local education (tie)
- February 2023 quit rate: 0.9% (-0.3 percentage points since 2022)
- February 2023 quit count: 92,000 (-29,000 since 2022)
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.
#14. State and local government
- February 2023 quit rate: 1.0% (-0.2 percentage points since 2022)
- February 2023 quit count: 89,000 (-15,000 since 2022)
Like federal employees, state and local government workers are also leaving their jobs in droves, with many 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 reported that they would have difficulty paying an unexpected $400 bill in an emergency.
- February 2023 quit rate: 1.4% (No change)
- February 2023 quit count: 44,000 (+1,000 since 2022)
Many information workers have been quitting their jobs since the pandemic began, but more recently, the technology industry has laid off tens of thousands of workers. Information sector layoffs exceeded quits by about 14,000 jobs. Layoffs now are more than five times their levels from a year ago, while quits remain steady as workers continue to seek more fulfilling or higher-paying opportunities.
#12. Educational services
- February 2023 quit rate: 1.5% (-0.2 percentage points since 2022)
- February 2023 quit count: 58,000 (-4,000 since 2022)
Private-sector education workers—those who work at private schools, technical institutes, and private 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.
- February 2023 quit rate: 2.0% (-0.2 percentage points since 2022)
- February 2023 quit count: 156,000 (-10,000 since 2022)
Job openings in construction have been dropping this year as big builders in the residential and commercial spaces pull back on planned building activity. The commercial real estate industry, particularly office space, has been bracing for the potential damage from the faltering regional banks that often lend to them. In residential, builders are leaning toward more multifamily apartment projects.
#8. Manufacturing (tie)
- February 2023 quit rate: 2.2% (-0.4 percentage points since 2022)
- February 2023 quit count: 283,000 (-48,000 since 2022)
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.
#8. Wholesale trade (tie)
- February 2023 quit rate: 2.2% (+0.2 percentage points since 2022)
- February 2023 quit count: 132,000 (+14,000 since 2022)
Not only are workers quitting wholesale trade, but the companies that employ them have had a hard time filling these vacant roles for many months. One potential reason? Significant supply chain delays, thanks to geopolitical instability and the COVID-19 pandemic.
#8. Real estate and rental and leasing (tie)
- February 2023 quit rate: 2.2% (+0.4 percentage points since 2022)
- February 2023 quit count: 52,000 (+9,000 since 2022)
Workers whose jobs are connected to home sales may be seeking other work as interest rates climb. Actions taken by the Federal Reserve to squash inflation have pushed mortgage rates to unaffordable levels for most Americans, depressing sales numbers. On top of that, a lack of housing inventory nationwide makes it increasingly pricey to rent, raising the stakes between tenants squeezed for cash and property managers tasked with enforcing higher rental rates.
#7. Health care and social assistance
- February 2023 quit rate: 2.7% (No change)
- February 2023 quit count: 566,000 (+10,000 since 2022)
Numerous headwinds are playing into the exodus of health care workers. Some of them include the politicization of public health and demonization of the workforce, extreme burnout from caring for COVID-19 patients, and the lasting trauma that comes from seeing patients die in hospital beds. Surveys of nurses also show that they are experiencing more harassment and violence in clinical settings.
#6. Mining and logging
- February 2023 quit rate: 2.8% (+0.8 percentage points since 2022)
- February 2023 quit count: 18,000 (+6,000 since 2022)
The Energy Information Administration says lack of demand is why coal production is down. Mining outposts shared shutdowns with logging companies, which weren't selling much lumber and couldn't find enough truckers. 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.
#4. Transportation, warehousing, and utilities (tie)
- February 2023 quit rate: 2.9% (+0.3 percentage points since 2022)
- February 2023 quit count: 209,000 (+22,000 since 2022)
Demand for warehousing and delivery surged during COVID-19 as people ordered goods online at record rates. But in the rush, companies have failed to prioritize worker safety and well-being. Employee turnover in this industry—and at some companies, in particular—has always been relatively high, and harsh working conditions only exacerbate the issue.
#4. Professional and business services (tie)
- February 2023 quit rate: 2.9% (-0.4 percentage points since 2022)
- February 2023 quit count: 661,000 (-85,000 since 2022)
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.
#3. Arts, entertainment, and recreation
- February 2023 quit rate: 3.2% (+0.2 percentage points since 2022)
- February 2023 quit count: 79,000 (+12,000 since 2022)
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 roared back to life in 2022, workers are still looking for more stability than the industry can often provide.
#2. Retail trade
- February 2023 quit rate: 3.6% (-0.9 percentage points since 2022)
- February 2023 quit count: 564,000 (-131,000 since 2022)
Retail jobs are notorious for poor working conditions and low wages, and reports say 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 who treat retail employees poorly.
#1. Accommodation and food services
- February 2023 quit rate: 5.9% (No change)
- February 2023 quit count: 839,000 (+51,000 since 2022)
Food service workers faced similar hardships to retail industry workers and earned similarly low wages. The hours of work can be inflexible and have to be performed at an in-person location. Many food service workers can be legally paid $2 an hour if they earn tips and are prone to be taken advantage of by employers that engage in wage theft.