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This is Why Workers are Saying 'I Quit'

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Leaving in Droves

The pandemic touched off nothing short of a revolution in the U.S. workforce. The so-called "Great Resignation" has been led by workers quitting their jobs at an unprecedented clip, then searching for greener pastures as employers scramble to fill newly empty positions. But what's driving the sudden dissatisfaction? Pew Research Center surveyed workers who left a job in 2021 to find out — here are the top 10 reasons they quit.


Related: The Great Resignation: Workers Are Abandoning These Industries

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10. Vaccine Requirements

The news has been full of employers instituting vaccine requirements. A requirement that federal workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 is being litigated, but several private employers have imposed their own mandates. Despite the controversy, only 8% of those surveyed said this was a major reason they left a job; 10% said it was a minor reason.


Related: 45 Great Jobs for Retirees

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9. Too Few Hours

Hourly workers who depend on a certain amount of work to plump up their paychecks are often disappointed, and that translates into resignations. For 16% of workers, this was a major reason they left a job; 14% said it was a minor reason.


Related: Jobs That Have Disappeared From American Life

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8. Wanted to Relocate

COVID-19 forced many employers to allow their workers to do their jobs remotely. But despite all the media attention on being able to work from anywhere, that's not a possibility for a huge chunk of the nation's workforce. Twenty-two percent of workers said they wanted to move to a place where their old job couldn't follow, and that was a major reason behind moving on, while 13% said it was a minor reason. 


Related: 15 Mistakes to Avoid When Working Remotely

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6. Subpar Benefits

For plenty of workers, a job is only as good as its benefits, especially in this age of skyrocketing health-care costs. For 23% of workers, meager benefits were a major reason they left a job, while 20% said this was a minor reason.


Related: Remote Work and Other Job Benefits You Shouldn't Overlook

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5. Inflexible Schedule

For many, the 9-to-5 grind is a thing of the past, and a big chunk of workers with more rigid hours are frustrated that they can't have more say over when they put in their time. Twenty-four percent of those surveyed said inflexible hours were a major reason they left a job, while 21% said this was a minor reason.


Related: 37 Jobs With Flexible Hours and Great Hourly Rates

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4. Child Care Issues

The pandemic shut down daycares and schools, putting many working parents in a near-impossible situation. Workers with kids under 18 cited child-care issues as a major reason for leaving a job 24% of the time; another 24% said this was a minor reason for leaving. 


Related: 30 Lies That Employees Tell Their Bosses

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3. Disrespect at Work

The Great Resignation has given many workers a new sense of power, especially as the labor market has shifted in their favor. Fewer are willing to put up with dysfunctional workplaces, with 35% saying that feeling disrespected at work was a major reason they left a job, and 21% saying it was a minor reason. 


Related: 30 Lies That Bosses Tell Employees

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2. No Chance for Advancement

For many, work is more than a paycheck — it's a career, and opportunities for promotion and advancement are crucial. But 33% of workers said a lack of those opportunities was a major reason they quit a job, and 30% said it was a minor reason. 


Related: Great Second Careers That Don't Require More School

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1. Low Pay

No surprise here. Companies have been boosting wages left and right as frustrated workers complain they can't make ends meet, especially as inflation rages. But is it enough? In 2021, low pay was the No. 1 reason workers moved on, with 37% citing it as a major reason they left a job and 26% saying it was a minor reason. 


Related: 30 Most Satisfying Jobs That Also Pay Well

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Who Was Most Likely to Quit?

Pew also analyzed the demographics of those who quit a job in 2021. This is what they found:

  • Women (20%) were more likely than men (18%) to say they quit a job in 2021
  • Asian (24%) and Hispanic workers (24%) were more likely than Black (18%) and white workers (17%) to quit
  • Younger workers aged 18-29 (37%) were far more likely to quit than those 30-49 (17%), those 50-64 (9%) and those 65+ (5%). 
  • Workers who had a high-school education or less (22%) quit more than workers with some college (20%), a bachelor's (17%), or those with post-graduate schooling (13%). 
  • Lower-income workers (24%) were most likely to quit compared with middle income (18%) and upper income workers (11%). 

Related: 28 Hidden Costs of Taking a New Job