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Workers who quit ‘have more power nowadays’: Payscale

With the unemployment rate at 3.6% – the lowest it’s been in nearly 50 years – this might be the best time to quit your job.

Certainly, when someone quits their job, dissatisfaction is a motivation. But (not so surprisingly), a new Payscale survey called “Why They Quit You,” found that the top reason people quit their jobs is for higher pay.

With wages increasing for nine consecutive months, workers now have a better chance of landing a higher paying job after quitting. Average hourly earnings have gone up 3.2% over the past year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“None of us are paid enough,” says Payscale’s chief economist Katie Bardaro. “It’s a seller’s market right now when it comes to labor. Those who are providing their services or selling their services, they really have more power nowadays than they did in prior years because of the strength of the labor market.”

I quit placard in hand with crumpled paper pile

Indeed, the number of job openings rose to 7.5 million as of March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – and there are now 1.2 million more open jobs than there are unemployed Americans, which suggests businesses will have to increase wages to attract and retain the workers they need.

Employees who quit can potentially see more value in terms of moving jobs to get a higher paycheck because the lower unemployment rate gives them more bargaining power. Bardaro says workers in the fields of computer science, mathematics, data science, and cyber security have a clear advantage in the market.

Quitting: millennials vs. boomers

Millennials are 9% more likely to quit for increased pay than baby boomers, according to Payscale. They’ll walk out the door if they’re unhappy or want a promotion. Boomers, on the other hand, are more likely to quit because they desire more flexibility at work.

“Millennials desire more promotions. You really need to lean into your promotional likelihood early on in your career because our own research has shown that wages stagnate in your 40s,” says Bardaro. “So your highest opportunity for seeing wage growth, which tends to come with promotions, is in the earlier part of your career.”

Looking for meaning

Higher pay isn’t the only motivating factor for leaving a job: when asked what attracted them to a new job, 27% of Payscale respondents said it was the opportunity to do more meaningful work, while just 16% said higher pay was the most important factor.

Pay transparency

Bardaro shares this advice to employers who would like to retain talent: “It’s not necessarily what you pay that engages your employees or keeps them satisfied. It’s why you pay what you pay. It’s a time for employers to realize that their workforce is clamoring for this information and demanding it to a level that they can no longer keep it hidden behind doors,” she says.

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