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Great Resignation Will Continue Next Year, Labor Expert Says

Kathryn Minshew, CEO of career website The Muse, thinks people quitting will spike after companies determine their back-to-office plans.
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The Great Resignation, which refers to the large number of people quitting their jobs, already has turned into a cliché.

And Kathryn Minshew, co-founder and CEO of career website The Muse, forecasts it’s going to continue next year, especially once companies figure out their back-to office plans, which is likely to happen in the spring, she told CNBC.

The Great Resignation has come as workers have found it easy to switch jobs. There were 11 million job openings in October, up 4.1% from September, according to the latest Labor Department data. Meanwhile, job quits totaled 4.16 million in October, down 4.7%.

As of October, there were 0.7 unemployed Americans for every job opening, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

A chart shows the number of unemployed people per job opening.

Where Did the Workers Go?

The fact that so many jobs remained unfilled, while so many Americans appear to have left the workforce, continues to puzzle economists and corporate bosses alike.

“An overlooked reason for this trend is that some people might have left their jobs to start their own business. According to the Business Formation Statistics, there has been a large increase in the number of applications being filed since the start of the pandemic.,” said Rucha Vankudre, senior labor economist at Emsi Burning Glass.

“This could be a possible explanation for why so many workers are quitting their jobs.”

That might explain the disappointing headline figure in the November employment report, which showed only 210,000 new positions added, the lowest total of the year, even as the headline unemployment rate fell to a post-pandemic low of 4.2%. 

It's also worth noting that the current number may dictate behaviors for both workers and companies. When it's not hard to get a job people are emboldened to quit and maybe even take some time off. Conversely, when the labor pool is tight, companies may not advertise jobs they don't expect to be able to find candidates to fill.