Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
In New Mexico and across the country, 2021 was a record-setting year for workers leaving their jobs in search of new challenges and new opportunities.
October data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that around 4.2 million Americans quit their jobs during the month. The same data set showed that there have been 68.1 million layoffs, resignations or other separations across the country over the previous 12 months, the highest figure on record for a single year.
“Employers know in general across most sectors … it is very much an employee’s market,” said Reilly White, associate professor of finance at the University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management.
White said there was no one reason for the substantial uptick in workers leaving the jobs, but rather a number of different stories that varied in different industries and different states. For many lower-wage workers, including those in the leisure and hospitality sector, challenges like rising costs for goods and services and limited options for child care prompted them to look elsewhere for jobs.
In some sectors, like health care and transportation, White said the COVID-19 pandemic has created a tremendous demand for workers that companies are struggling to meet. In white-collar industries, White suggested that the pent-up demand for job changes may have boiled over in 2020.
“So we have a couple of parallel stories that are really interesting,” White said.
White said New Mexico’s quit rate was narrowly below the national average, but that doesn’t mean the “Great Resignation” didn’t reshape the state’s workforce in 2021.
The Journal talked to several workers who left their jobs in search of something better, and will present their stories throughout January.