The industries where workers are quitting their jobs in droves

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August 3, 2021
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The industries where workers are quitting their jobs in droves

For the last year, workers have made tough decisions about their future income based on not only a changing job market but also concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers in many industries were let go when things shut down in May 2020, but others faced two options: quit during a terrifying time, or stay and endure hardships they have never faced before.

Some industries, like health care, saw massive exits, while others experienced fewer vacancies overall but a quit rate that was higher than normal. Stacker analyzed the Bureau of Labor Statics’ July 2021 Job Openings and Labor Turnover report to find the number of people who have quit during the month of May 2021, then compared that with the number of people who left their jobs in May 2020.

Out of the 10 industries on this list, six of them had a 50% or greater increase in the quit rate compared to last year. While circumstances last year may have caused about 40,000 musicians and entertainers to quit, the level went up to 58,000 this May. American employment is stabilizing, but that doesn't mean the quit rate will go down. If anything, economic stability provides employees with safer opportunities to quit and find something that suits them better.

The BLS calculates the quit rate as the number of quits during the entire month as a percentage of total employment, and the quit level as the number of employees quitting. Ties were broken by the percentage increase between May 2020 and 2021.

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

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1 / 10
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#10. Real estate and rental and leasing

- May 2021 quit rate: 1.7% (142.9% increase since May 2020)
- May 2021 quit level: 39,000 employees

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.

2 / 10
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#9. Mining and logging

- May 2021 quit rate: 1.8% (63.6% increase since May 2020)
- May 2021 quit level: 11,000 employees

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 has swung back and lumber companies are now raising production (and costs) in response to increasing demand.

3 / 10
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#8. Manufacturing

- May 2021 quit rate: 2.1% (75.0% increase since May 2020)
- May 2021 quit level: 255,000 employees

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, their competitors are watching their workers leave for greener pastures.

4 / 10
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#7. Construction

- May 2021 quit rate: 2.1% (50.0% increase since May 2020)
- May 2021 quit level: 160,000 employees

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 loss during the pandemic, and now the construction industry is hoping for relief at the federal level through President Biden's infrastructure plan.

5 / 10
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#6. Health care and social assistance

- May 2021 quit rate: 2.3% (43.8% increase since May 2020)
- May 2021 quit level: 459,000 employees

There are many issues surrounding the mass exodus of health care workers: the debate on requiring vaccinations for health care professionals, the extreme burnout from caring for COVID-19 patients (especially as another surge approaches), and the trauma of watching patients die from the virus. Many nurses have considered changing careers entirely because of the stress.

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6 / 10
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#5. Transportation, warehousing, and utilities

- May 2021 quit rate: 2.6% (18.2% increase since May 2020)
- May 2021 quit level: 160,000 employees

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. And transit and warehousing are linked, with all kinds of cargo being carried to warehouses by trucks and rail.

7 / 10
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#4. Professional and business services

- May 2021 quit rate: 2.8% (27.3% increase since May 2020)
- May 2021 quit level: 582,000 employees

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 closed down between last year and now.

8 / 10
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#3. Arts, entertainment, and recreation

- May 2021 quit rate: 2.9% (45.0% increase since May 2020)
- May 2021 quit level: 58,000 employees

Every concert 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. With Broadway scheduled to return in September, more hires will be needed in entertainment once again.

9 / 10
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#2. Retail trade

- May 2021 quit rate: 4.0% (73.9% increase since May 2020)
- May 2021 quit level: 606,000 employees

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.

10 / 10
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#1. Accommodation and food services

- May 2021 quit rate: 5.7% (54.1% increase since May 2020)
- May 2021 quit level: 706,000 employees

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 ask for more pay to offset the increased hazards of their workplace.

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