Antsy millennials job-hop amid bustling economy

NEW YORK • Quitting is in. More than three million Americans quit their jobs last December, the highest number since 2006, according to data released by the US Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS).

The quit rate, which measures how many people ended their employment out of everyone who worked each month, reached its highest level in seven years.

Economists are generally pleased when Americans feel comfortable telling their bosses that it is not working out. It is a sign of a bustling economy when people do not stay in the same job for long periods, because it shows they are confident they can find work elsewhere.

But it is possible that an even broader attitude shift is under way. The largest share of workers in the country - millennials - seem to be categorically opposed to spending their lives at one desk.

Last year, people aged 18 to 34 became the largest segment of the US labour market, according to the Pew Research Center.

The millennial workforce is expected to increase even more, Pew said, as college students graduate and new immigrants, who tend to be young, add to the 53.3 million-strong ranks of the group.

Lots of them seem to be antsy. A majority of millennials will leave their jobs in the near future, according to a survey released this year by Deloitte of 7,500 working, college-educated professionals born after 1982 in 29 countries.

Sixty-six per cent hoped to have a different job five years from now or sooner, 44 per cent said they would quit within two years, and 25 per cent said they would jump ship this year to start a new job or "do something different" .

US millennial workers were slightly more loyal than the global population, but not by much. Only 29 per cent said they planned to stay at their current organisation for more than five years. The BLS does not break down the quit rate by age, so it is hard to be sure whether young people are acting on their desire to move on.

Millennials and their older co-workers have reason to be optimistic about their job prospects. In December, job openings hit their second-highest level since the BLS began recording these figures in 2000 (July set the record, with 5.67 million openings). Employers hired more people in December than at any point since November 2006. In short, it is a good time to be a restless worker.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 14, 2016, with the headline 'Antsy millennials job-hop amid bustling economy'. Print Edition | Subscribe