North Carolinians are quitting their jobs amid ‘The Great Resignation.’ Why are they leaving?

Street View image from Jan. 2021. © 2021 Google

North Carolina is ranked ninth for the highest job resignation rate in the nation, according to a study published by the personal finance website WalletHub.

The state’s resignation rate was 3.2% over the last 12 months, the study said.

WalletHub ranked each state and the District of Columbia based on the rate at which people quit their jobs within the last month and over the last 12 months using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The news comes as millions of Americans quit jobs during the latter half of 2021 – during a movement that has been called “The Great Resignation” – culminated by a record 4.5 million Americans leaving their jobs last November.

What industries were hit the hardest?

Between July and November of last year, national resignation rates were the highest in the food service and retail industries, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show.

In November 2021, the quit rate among food service workers was 6.9%, up from 4.8% in November of 2020.

The resignation rate among retail employees was 4.4% last November, up from 3.6% during that same period two years ago.

Why are people leaving their jobs?

Laura Stanley, a professor at UNC Charlotte’s Belk College of Business, blames the exodus of workers on their desire to find fulfillment in their professional lives.

“The pandemic has caused people to reevaluate their lives, and how they want to spend 40 to 60 hours a week,” Stanley said. “Now more than ever, they really want to be passionate about their work.”

As the economy begins to recover from the effects caused by the pandemic, there has been a surge in job openings, but some employers are having a difficult time filling open positions.

“People are looking for efforts from their employers’ part to protect them and to offer flexibility,” Stanley said, adding that some employers have implemented remote or hybrid work policies. “Organizations are showing varied responses to the pandemic, and the more resources and clear communication about safety protocols they provide to employees, the more likely they are to retain them.”

Will this trend continue?

If companies don’t find a way to make their workplaces more appealing, more people may choose to become self-employed, or due to the rising cost of childcare, raise their children full-time, experts say.

Based on her observations, Stanley said more people are choosing to start their own businesses instead of pursuing 9 to 5 jobs – and she doesn’t anticipate the trend will die off any time soon.

“You see a lot of energy here in North Carolina around entrepreneurship, and I don’t see that slowing down,” she said. “People are very motivated to create a utopian organization for themselves if they can’t find it at an existing organization.”