NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- A study by national executive search firm FPC says that four in five Americans want to change their jobs. What's behind the numbers, and is the economy even strong enough to grant workers their wish?

As part of FPC's 2011 Year in Review, the recruiting firm interviewed 1,500 U.S. workers, of whom a whopping 79% said they "were planning on looking for a new job once the economy improves."
In a recent survey, four in five Americans said they want to switch jobs.

The laundry list of reasons FPC culled from its survey participants tells a story of workforce warriors with limited opportunities and a long memory of transgressions, perceived and real, that they suffered at the hands of often arrogant employers during the Great Recession.

Here are some of the more prominent reasons employees are so anxious to move on to greener pastures:

Opportunities are blocked
About 50% of survey participants told FPC that, while they have achieved more marketable skills with their current employer, opportunities for advancement at that employer are severely limited, leaving workers no choice but to search for a better career path elsewhere.

They feel mistreated
The survey found that 28% of workers say their employers mistreated them during tough economic times and feel their company took advantage of their fragile job situation by adding more hours, curtailing raises and bonuses and even cutting salary when jobs were scarce. Now that that the economy may be on the upswing, workers feel they have some leverage and wouldn't mind sticking it to their employer by leaving for a better job.

Perks don't matter as much
Employees are increasingly looking at jobs as a meat-and-potatoes proposition, with less focus on such things as casual Fridays, free lunches and company parties. In a new age of austerity, 50% of employees said those perks didn't matter much to them anymore and wouldn't be a factor in deciding on a new job.

They want more risk
Only 10% of survey respondents said that the job market was "too tenuous" and would take great caution before leaving for another position. And only 8% said their current employer treated them well enough during the recession so they wouldn't actively seek a job at another company.

Ron Herzog, CEO & president of FPC, describes the trend toward employees leaving their companies as "pent-up demand for career change."

That seems to tamp down a below-the-surface frustration at best, and anger at worst, on the part of workers coming out of one of the worst economies in 80 years. Whether they realize it or not, U.S. companies may have taken advantage of their workers, who now carry a grudge and an ardent desire for "payback" against those same companies.

As the saying goes, what goes around comes around. Now, if only the economy comes around, employers may see what it's like to be treated as second-class citizens.

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