- Workers have quit in unprecedented numbers over the past few months.
- Recent reports found that there are at least 8.4 million unemployed Americans at the moment, while there are simultaneously 10 million job openings.
- While the reasons for quitting have been widely documented, the question that remains is: what are people who quit their jobs doing with their time?
The Great Resignation is the recent phenomenon where millions of workers each month have been quitting their jobs. A primary reason for the Great Resignation is that workers want to feel like their work has purpose –not just for the workers for themselves, but in general. Innumerable workers feel disaffected by their jobs, and have become fed up with it.
In the short term, reports on the Great Resignation have been encouraging for workers. In many cases now, workers have leveraging power which was unheard of prior to the pandemic. That much is clear.
What has been less clear, however, is what the millions of people who have quit their jobs are doing with their time. Are they finding new jobs? Are they attempting to gain skills in order to find more meaningful and impactful work?
Recent Job Reports Indicate Many Haven’t Yet Found Work
The Great Resignation formally began back in April, when 4 million Americans quit their jobs. Since then, roughly anywhere from a million to 4 million Americans have quit their jobs on a monthly basis.
On top of that, nearly half of the U.S. workforce population are thinking about quitting their jobs. Thus, there’s no reason yet to speculate that the movement is going to end anytime soon.
There haven’t been any studies yet determining how many people who quit their job through the Great Resignation found new work. However, report findings from the Bureau of Labor Statistics allow us to speculate whether or not those who have left their jobs have found new ones.
The October 2021 report states that 531,000 jobs were added in the United States. This is clearly a win in terms of getting the U.S. economy back on its feet.
But, in light of millions of people having quit their jobs, this is only a fractional solution. And this is especially the case considering that in September the U.S. only added 194,000 jobs –and prior to that, comparable numbers on a monthly basis.
That is to say, while it’s clearly the case that many are finding work, the number of people who are pale in comparison to the number of people who aren’t.
Indeed, there are at least 8.4 million unemployed Americans at the moment, while there are simultaneously 10 million job openings.
Despite what this may look like, the Great Resignation isn’t driven mainly by anti-work sentiments; 40 percent of the American population has been reported to either be looking for new work or are considering looking for new work.
But that leaves 60% of workers unaccounted for.
What are the Great Resigners doing with their time?
The way millions of people have been spending their time after quitting their jobs has been largely left up to speculation. That is because there hasn’t been much polling or research done to study how ex-workers are currently spending their time.
Still, some studies have hinted at what they are currently doing. For instance, it’s been reported that many of the workers who have quit their jobs swiftly received call backs from their former places of employment to return to their jobs.
In many of these so-called ‘boomerang’ cases, it’s quite possible that people will indeed return to their former places of employment.
But, all this tells us is the sort of phone calls some of these workers might be receiving from time to time.
What are these workers actively doing with their time?
Research shows that at least 41 percent of the American workforce freelanced in 2020. There’s plenty of career growth to be had freelancing, and millennials & Gen Z are leading the charge in growing the gig economy.
This makes sense, as freelancing can alleviate many of the worries that the Great Resigners left their jobs for in the first place: mainly better pay and greater flexibility.
Nearly half of millennials and Gen Z workers are now freelancing in some capacity, and given that these generations are the biggest drivers of the Great Resignation, it’s fair to state that a large percentage of the millions of workers who’ve quit their jobs are now freelancing.
Apart from this, due to the sheer lack of data on the matter, what the rest of these workers might be doing with their time isn’t very clear.
What is likely, though, is that the millions of workers who have quit their jobs can be characterized by the following amalgam:
- they’ve either found work,
- they are looking for work
- they began freelancing
- they are educating themselves to acquire new skills for better work
- they’re doing nothing.
What is clear from what data there indeed is on the matter, is that most of the millions of workers who quit their jobs aren’t simply lazing around doing nothing. That is the vast minority of them.
Rather, most of these workers seem to be actively looking towards fulfilling the aim that motivated them to leave their jobs in the first place: to find better work that values their time and well-being.