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The Great Resignation Is Here to Stay

figures moving towards an oversized 'Exit' sign, illustration

The number of people quitting their jobs in the U.S. hit an all-time record in August, then in September, and again in November.

Credit: Paul Blow / The Economist

Americans have been quitting their jobs by the millions over the past year, jumping from one company to another in record numbers. Maybe their previous employer tried to drag them back into the office, while a competitor allowed them to continue working remotely. Or they simply wanted a change.

"People are reassessing their lives," says Andy Challenger, senior vice president at Challenger Gray and Christmas.

The so-called great resignation is quickly remaking what it means to work in America. One challenge is the rapidly shifting office culture. Many companies, including tech giants like Apple, Meta, and Google, are attempting to navigate the new normal of people expecting flexibility. Some of the loudest debates over remote work have happened in the tech world, where employees have asked for flexibility to stay home even from their luxurious offices in Silicon Valley.

"Companies need to start shouldering the burden," says Ron Hetrick, a senior labor economist at Emsi Burning Glass. "Right now, they think instead of giving people raises and more meaningful work, they're saying they'll just steal employees from someone else's work — it's short-term thinking."

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