The ‘Big Stay’: More Workers Are Hunkering Down And Staying In Their Current Jobs

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Fewer people are quitting their jobs in 2023, which signifies that the United States is phasing out of its Great Resignation era. According to the ADP Research Institute, the rate of Americans quitting their jobs is down by 5% from this time last year. Job openings in the U.S. have also fallen 20% from 2022.

“The Big Quit of 2022 could be easing into the Big Stay of 2023,” wrote Nela Richardson, ADP chief economist, in her research institute data summary.

The “Big Stay” is a term used to describe the trend of workers hunkering down and remaining in their current jobs for more extended periods of time. This trend contrasts the Great Resignation, which saw a record number of workers—4 million each month—quitting their jobs in 2021 for better pay and benefits, work flexibility, an enhanced work-life balance and career advancement.

What Is Happening

Several factors are contributing to the Big Stay. There are times when you should exercise extreme caution in quitting your job and engaging in a job search. The once-accommodating environment for switching jobs during the Great Resignation seems to be fading away. A confluence of economic and geopolitical events has caused companies to exercise belt-tightening and cost-cutting measures.

Federal Reserve Bank Chair Jerome Powell announced this month that the Fed would raise interest rates for the 10th consecutive time to a range of 5% to 5.25%. In his efforts to dampen the economy to bring down record-high inflation, there will be collateral damage, including job cuts.

When rates rise, it amounts to an additional tax on households and companies. The extra costs deter spending for both consumers and corporations. As companies feel the effects of higher borrowing costs, they tighten their belts, cut costs and lay off workers. This is an intended consequence of Powell’s anti-inflation quest.

Blue-collar workers may have more job security in 2023 than white-collar professionals, who are facing what is being called a “richcession.” According to Layoffs.fyi, more than 675 tech companies laid off nearly 194,000 employees in 2023.

Meanwhile, layoffs are way below pre-pandemic norms for blue-collar workers, who are usually the first ones hit by economic turbulence, such as those in hospitality, food and beverages, construction and retail.

Not Worth The Risk

The devil you know is often better than the devil you don’t know. Some people feel it’s safer to stay where they are rather than take the chance to move jobs. The fear is that they’d accept a job, only to find out later that the company is laying off staff.

The prospective job seeker will rationalize that it’s not worth the risk. Even if they receive a 10% raise, the pay bump is not very meaningful after taxes. It’s not worth the stress, aggravation and uncertainty of engaging in a job hunt and accepting a position that may or may not work out well for a slight salary increase.

Job Seekers Have Less Bargaining Power

There has also been an emergence of a new power dynamics shift. In light of the changing economic landscape, employers now have greater leverage. For example, the supply-and-demand equation has changed with thousands of tech professionals in the job market.

Finding and recruiting top talent during the Great Resignation was incredibly difficult. A sizable premium to their compensation package needed to be offered to entice a software engineer to jump ship. According to the ADP data, the wage increases for workers who have switched jobs have slowed down. Pay increases for job switchers was 13.2% in April, the lowest wage growth rate since November 2021. Pay bumps typically correlate with the number of job openings available. With job opportunities down, the dismal growth in pay for job switchers is not surprising.

The Great Resignation was a time when companies prioritized workers, but now they are catering to their shareholders. Workers may be holding off quitting their jobs to see how things play out or waiting for the job market to tip in their favor again, even if it means staying in a job they hate.



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