Almost 4.2 million people voluntarily left their jobs in November, marking the 18th straight month of record-breaking quits in the U.S. — and according to new research, even more Americans are planning to switch jobs soon, with younger employees leading the wave.
More than half of U.S. workers — 61% — are considering leaving their jobs in 2023, a new report from LinkedIn has found, noting that a higher percentage of Gen Z (defined by LinkedIn as ages 18-25) and millennial (ages 26-41) workers are planning to call it quits than any other generation.
In December, LinkedIn and CensusWide surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. workers about their professional plans for the new year. Of those respondents, 72% of Gen Zers and 66% of millennials said they are contemplating a career change in the next 12 months, compared to just 55% of Gen Xers (ages 42-57) and 30% of baby boomers (ages 58-76).
Nevertheless, job-hopping is a practice that's become increasingly popular over the past two years by virtue of a persistently tight labor market. This has translated to ample opportunities for workers, who can double or even triple their salaries by changing jobs.
As for Gen Zers, many of whom started their careers in fractured hybrid or remote work environments at the height of the pandemic, "they're in an experimental phase where they're still figuring out what they want out of a job," Karin Kimbrough, chief economist at LinkedIn, tells CNBC Make It.
"But they're more passionate about finding a job that aligns with their personal values, and they're confident that switching jobs will help them get there," Kimbrough adds.
There's not much that sets this latest anticipated quitting spree apart from earlier exoduses that defined the Great Resignation — at least so far.
The main reasons Gen Zers and millennials are considering switching jobs haven't changed, with higher compensation, improved work-life balance, opportunities for career growth and flexible work arrangements all ranking as top priorities, per LinkedIn's research.
Even with a possible recession on the horizon, Kimbrough expects that Gen Zers and millennials will continue to quit and change jobs at elevated rates in the months ahead.
While it's still too soon to tell what kind of impact another wave of quits among the youngest generations of the workforce would have on the labor market, other recent research can give us a confident forecast.
Some industries stand to lose younger employees faster than others: Gen Zers and millennials are "particularly eager" to leave some public-facing industries, including health care, retail and education, according to the Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z and millennial survey, which was published in May 2022 and polled more than 14,000 Gen Zers in addition to over 7,400 millennials from 46 countries.
Those who quit without a new job in hand are likely to find a new role with reduced hours through temporary, gig or part-time work, or decide to start their own business.
Younger generations are the most likely to aspire to be their own boss, with 76% of Gen Z and millennials saying that this is a goal, compared with 63% of those who are Gen X and older, according to a September 2022 Microsoft report, which surveyed 20,000 people in 11 countries.
Despite three whiplash-inducing years of an unpredictable economy, younger professionals are more confident in their abilities and leaving their current job for a better role compared to the start of 2022, LinkedIn added.
Much of this optimism can be credited to the resilience Gen Zers and millennials have developed to navigate the chaotic conditions they started their careers in, Andrew Seaman, managing editor for jobs and career development at LinkedIn, says, referring to the Covid-19 recession and the Great Recession of 2007, respectively.
"These generations are used to economic turmoil and the roller coaster conditions of the labor market," he explains. "A lot of younger workers understand that their jobs aren't secure, and they might have to find a new one tomorrow — that kind of attitude can breed confidence in a person, because they're prepared for the worst outcome."