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Gifts of the Great Resignation

Evolving the CEO mindset on talent

Call it what you will — The Great Resignation, The Great Reframing, The Great Realignment — but know there is something dramatic afoot in the labor market. More Americans are quitting their jobs than ever before. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that 4.3 million people, fully 2.9 percent of our entire workforce, quit their jobs in August – an all-time high. (U.S. Bureau of Labor)

The August figure is not an outlier; it continues a trend that began in May 2021 (see chart). The leisure and hospitality industry has experienced the highest rate of resignation (an eye-popping 6.4 percent, with almost one million people leaving in August alone), but every industry is seeing historically-high levels of workers quitting their jobs. And it’s also happening at every level — from low-skilled workers to top executives. And this trend shows no signs of slowing down. Surveys estimate that as many as 47 percent of U.S. workers are considering changing jobs.

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Many explanations for this trend have been proffered by economists and social commentators. Anthony Klotz, a Texas A&M University economist who first called the trend “The Great Resignation,” believes that “pandemic epiphanies” have motivated many to seek better, more satisfying careers. Conservative commentators argue that expanded unemployment benefits and the forgiveness of student debt have allowed people to leave the workforce.

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