The New Labor Market

February 4, 2022 • Volume 32, Issue 4
Will the “Great Resignation” give workers more leverage?
By Holly Rosenkrantz


The U.S. labor market has been transformed by a phenomenon known as the “Great Resignation.” Workers are quitting at rates not seen in decades, employers are struggling to fill job openings and workplace strikes are on the rise. A record 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November. Some are leaving the workforce altogether, while others are moving to different jobs, starting their own business or taking on contract work. A variety of factors are believed to have created this trend: greater personal savings, worker discontent, and fallout from COVID-19. In some cases, COVID has caused people to rethink their priorities and career goals. In other cases, millions of people may be suffering from disabilities due to long COVID, making them unable or unwilling to work. The question is whether this trend is temporary — or a permanent alteration of the workforce.

Photo of a McDonald's restaurant with hiring sign in Miami Beach, Florida, on August 28, 2021. (Getty Images/Universal Images Group/Jeffrey Greenberg)
Businesses facing staffing vacancies, such as this McDonald's restaurant in Miami Beach, Fla., hope to lure workers with better pay and other perks. Experts wonder whether the recent increase in workers quitting their jobs is temporary, or a permanent realignment. (Getty Images/Universal Images Group/Jeffrey Greenberg)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Jobs and Skills
Feb. 04, 2022  The New Labor Market
Sep. 17, 2021  Career Change
Aug. 28, 2020  The Nature of Work
Sep. 21, 2018  Labor Shortage Debate
Mar. 30, 2018  U.S. Trade Policy
Oct. 04, 2013  Worker Safety
Mar. 02, 2012  Attracting Jobs
Jul. 22, 2011  Reviving Manufacturing
Jun. 04, 2010  Jobs Outlook
Feb. 20, 2004  Exporting Jobs
Jan. 11, 2002  Future Job Market
Apr. 24, 1998  High-Tech Labor Shortage
Oct. 24, 1997  Contingent Work Force
Feb. 28, 1992  Jobs in the '90s
Jun. 27, 1986  America's Service Economy
Jul. 22, 1983  Technology and Employment
Dec. 10, 1969  Jobs for the Future
Jun. 21, 1967  World Competition for Skilled Labor
Sep. 03, 1965  Shortage of Skills
Oct. 31, 1962  Retraining for New Jobs
Nov. 28, 1956  Shortage of Critical Skills
Data and Statistics
Economic Analyses, Forecasts, and Statistics
Employee Benefits
General Employment and Labor
General Social Trends
Infectious Diseases
Internet and Social Media
Journalism and the News
Labor Standards and Practices
Party Politics
Party Politics
Powers and History of the Presidency
Regulation and Deregulation
Retail Trade
Retirement, Pensions, and Social Security
Social Security
Telecommunications and Wireless Technologies
Unemployment and Employment Programs
Unions and Labor-Management Relations
Work and the Family