Great Resignation

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The Great Resignation, also known as the Big Quit, [2] is an economic trend in which employees voluntarily resign from their jobs en masse, beginning in early 2021, primarily in the United States. It started when the American government refused to provide necessary worker protections in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in wage stagnation amid rising cost of living. Some economists have described the Great Resignation as a kind of general strike while discussing Striketober, a wave of strikes in October 2021.


The term was coined by Anthony Klotz, a professor of management at Mays Business School at Texas A&M University, who predicted the mass exodus in May 2021. [3] [4] [5] [6]


In the twenty years preceding February 2021, roughly a year after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States resignation rate never surpassed 2.4% of the total workforce per month. [7] High quit rates indicate worker confidence in the ability to get higher paying jobs, which typically coincides with high economic stability, an abundance of people working, [8] and low unemployment rates. [9] [10] Conversely, during periods of high unemployment, resignation rates tend to decrease as hire rates also decrease. For example, during the Great Recession, the U.S. quit rate decreased from 2.0% to 1.3% as the hire rate fell from 3.7% to 2.8%. [7]

Resignation rates in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic initially followed this pattern. In March and April 2020, a record 13.0 and 9.3 million workers (8.6% and 7.2%) were laid off, and the quit rate subsequently fell to a seven-year low of 1.6%. [7] Much of the layoffs and resignations were driven by women, who disproportionately work in industries that were affected most by the lockdowns, like service industries and childcare. [9] [11] [12]

As the pandemic has continued, however, workers have paradoxically quit their jobs in large numbers. This is despite continued labor shortages and high unemployment. [13] [14]


The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed workers to rethink their careers, work conditions, and long-term goals. [8] As many workplaces attempted to bring their employees in-person, workers desired the freedom to work from home given the pandemic. With telecommuting also came schedule flexibility, which was the primary reason to look for a new job of the majority of those studied by Bankrate in August 2021. [15] Additionally, many workers, particularly in younger cohorts, are seeking to gain a better work–life balance. [16]

Restaurants and hotels, industries that require in-person interactions, have been hit the hardest by waves of resignations. [17] COVID-19 stimulus payments and rises in unemployment benefits allow those who rely on low-wage jobs for survival to stay home, although places where unemployment benefits were rolled back did not see significant job creation as a result. [17] [8] [18]

According to a study conducted by Adobe, the exodus is being driven by Millennials and Generation Z, who are more likely to be dissatisfied with their work. More than half of Gen Z reported planning to seek a new job within the next year. [19]

Additionally, millions of people are also suffering disabilities from long COVID, altering their ability or desire to work. [20]


United States

In April 2021, as COVID-19 vaccination rates increased, evidence began emerging that the Great Resignation was beginning in the United States. That month, a record 4.0 million Americans quit their jobs. [21] [14]

In June 2021, approximately 3.9 million American workers quit their jobs. [22] Resignations are consistently the most prevalent in the South, where 2.9% of the workforce voluntarily left their jobs in June, followed by the Midwest (2.8%) and the West (2.6%). The Northeast is the most stable region, with 2.0% of workers quitting in June. [23]

According to Microsoft's 2021 Work Trend Index, more than 40% of the global workforce are considering quitting their job in 2021. [24] According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey conducted in early August 2021, 65% of employees said they are looking for a new job and 88% of executives said their company is experiencing higher turnover than normal. [25]

In October 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that food service workers' quit rates rose to 6.8%, which is well above the industry average of 4.1% over the last 20 years and still higher than the industry's quit peaks of 5% in 2006 and 2019. [26] The retail industry had the second highest quit rates at 4.7%. [27] A Deloitte study published in Fortune magazine in October 2021 found that among Fortune 1000 companies, 73% of CEOs anticipate the work shortage will disrupt their businesses over the next 12 months; 57% believe attracting talent is among their company's biggest challenges; and 35% have already expanded benefits to bolster employee retention. [28]

Amidst the Great Resignation, a strike wave known as Striketober began, with over 100,000 American workers participating in or preparing for strike action. [29] [30] While discussing Striketober, The Guardian wrote that some economists described the Great Resignation as workers participating in a general strike against poor working conditions and low wages. [29]

From the start of the pandemic to November 2021, approximately one in five healthcare workers quit their jobs. [31]


A survey of 5,000 people in Belgium, France, the UK, Germany and the Netherlands by HR company SD Worx found that employees in Germany had the most COVID-19-related resignations, with 6.0% of the workers leaving their jobs. This was followed by the United Kingdom with 4.7%, the Netherlands with 2.9%, and France with 2.3%. Belgium had the least number of resignations with 1.9%. [32]

Some preliminary data show an increase in the number of quits in Italy, starting in the second quarter of 2021. The registered increase was not only in absolute terms, but also in terms of quit rate (computed as quits over employed population) and of quit share (computed as quits over total contract terminations). [33]


A similar phenomenon is occurring in China, referred to as tang ping. It started roughly during the same time in April 2021. [34]


India witnessed large scale resignations across sectors of the economy. The information technology sector in particular witnessed massive attrition. [35] [36] [37] [38] [39]

See also

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