We’re not quitters (or, how we quit our jobs at a lower rate than other states)

Analysis shows N.J. — despite average of 2.4% of workforce walking away each month — is 9th-lowest in U.S.

The Great Resignation is real. Just ask any hiring manager.

But, there appears to be a piece of statistical good news for New Jersey. Even though 2.4% of Jerseyans — on average — quit their job every month from January to October of 2021, the state’s “monthly quit rate” was 9th-lowest among the 50 states and Washington, D.C.

N.J. quits

An analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data found that the average monthly quit rate in New Jersey was 2.4% in 2021. Overall, New Jersey saw 931,000 quits last year. Out of all U.S. states, New Jersey reported the 9th-lowest monthly quit rate in 2021.

Here is a summary of the data for New Jersey:

  • Average monthly quit rate (2021):4%
  • Total quits (2021): 931,000
  • Percentage point change in quit rate (2020–2021): +0.3
  • Quits as a percentage of total separations (2021): 5%

The numbers come from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and in a report from ChamberOfCommerce.org (which bills itself as a go-to source for small businesses, but is not connected to any specific chamber).

The tough news here: The Great Resignation doesn’t appear to be slowing. In fact, the opposite. In November 2021 (the last month data is available), a record 4.5 million Americans quit their job. The quit rate — defined as the number of monthly quits as a percentage of total employment — rose to 3% in November, tying September’s record.

(In case you’re wondering, they didn’t answer the bigger question: How will these folks pay their bills? But we digress.)

Historically, job openings, hires and separations have tracked each other. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted this pattern. At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, total separations rose to a record 16.3 million, as businesses across the country laid off workers and shut down. Separations were also high in April 2020, but then returned to more typical levels and have been trending upward ever since. At the same time, job openings have been climbing rapidly, reaching near-record levels in October 2021 amidst widespread labor shortages.

As businesses across the country struggle to hire, workers continue to quit in droves. Both total quits and quit rates have been rising since the spring of 2020, causing quits to account for an increasingly large share of total separations. The pandemic has caused many workers to reassess their priorities and look for jobs that offer more flexibility as well as better pay and benefits. Fortunately for them, the current labor market puts workers in a good position to make headway on these goals. Job openings currently total 10.6 million, and, with 6.9 million unemployed workers, there are about 1.5 jobs per every unemployed worker.

States with highest quit rates

Based on the percentage of workers, on average, who quit every month.

10. West Virginia: 3.1%
9. South Carolina: 3.1%
8. Wyoming: 3.2%
7. North Carolina: 3.2%
6. Mississippi: 3.2%
5. Hawaii: 3.4%
4. Kentucky: 3.4%
3. Georgia: 3.5%
2. Nevada: 3.8%
1. Alaska: 3.8%

While quits tend to be higher in lower-paying sectors, quits have been rising across nearly every industry. The accommodation and food service industry, which includes restaurants, bars and hotels, had the highest average monthly quit rate for 2021, at 5.7%. Additionally, the industry had the greatest increase in its quit rate from 2020 to 2021, at 1.5 percentage points. Government had the lowest quit rate in 2021 and is the only sector that saw a decline in its quit rate year over year.

Methodology: Quit rates vary across the country due to factors such as local job market conditions, cost of living and local industry makeup. To determine the states with the highest quit rates, researchers at ChamberOfCommerce.org analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The researchers ranked states according to the average monthly quit rate in 2021. Researchers also calculated the total quits in 2021, the percentage point change in the quit rate from 2020 to 2021 and quits as a percentage of total separations in 2021.

For more information, a detailed methodology and complete results, you can find the original report on ChamberOfCommerce.org’s website here.