Record numbers of workers are part of what’s been dubbed “The Big Quit” or “The Great Resignation,” as economies emerge from the pandemic. If a recent Microsoft survey is even close to the mark, 41% of the global workforce plan on saying goodbye to their employer and colleagues this year.
Many of the quitters are, and will be, people 50+. Some for greener pastures at other employers or ventures they’re starting; others for retirement.
The flurry of emailed farewells and virtual goodbye gatherings around the United States lately reflect worker confidence that the U.S. economy’s rebound is strong enough that they’re willing to take a risk and leave their jobs.
Demand for Workers Means Options for Some
Their timing is savvy considering how strong the demand is for workers.
Companies are fighting for talent, and that’s the definition of a good market for anyone looking to voluntarily change jobs. Generally speaking, household finances seem unusually supportive for funding a job search, too. Economists estimate Americans accumulated an excess of $2 trillion in savings during the pandemic, though they are quick to add that many are struggling.
Seasoned workers with retirement savings plans have done well lately since the markets have been strong and 401(k) contributions have remained relatively steady. Home values also rose sharply during the pandemic in many places, and older Americans tend to be homeowners.
“In a world where workers don’t have a lot of power, quitting is the one bargaining chip they have,” says Geoffrey Sanzenbacher, research economist at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. And, he added, many older workers “have something they’ve wanted to do for a while” — which could be starting a business, following a passion or retiring.