More Job Quits Lead to Better Matches and Higher Productivity

(p. A1) Kimberly Enoch had a stable job working from home managing grants for a Little Rock, Ark., nonprofit, but she was bored and thought she could do better.

So she quit.

Within three months, she landed a job as a grant writer at Southern Bancorp Community Partners, snagging a 14% raise, a faster pace at work and an easy seven-minute commute.

“I knew I could do more,” Ms. Enoch said.

She is part of a bigger trend. Workers are choosing to leave their jobs at the fastest rate since the internet boom 17 years ago and getting rewarded for it with bigger paychecks and/or more satisfying work.

Labor Department data show that 3.4 million Americans quit their jobs in April [2018], near a 2001 peak and twice the 1.7 million who were laid off from jobs in April.

Job-hopping is happening across industries including retail, food service and construction, a sign of broad-based labor-market dynamism.

Workers have been made more confident by a strong economy and historically low unemployment, at 3.8% in May, the lowest since 2000. Ms. Enoch started getting interview opportunities the same day she began sending out applications online.

The trend could stoke broader wage growth and improve worker productivity, which have been sluggish in the past decade.

. . .

(p. A2) The recent uptick in quitting goes against a long-running decline in worker mobility. In recent decades, as the population aged and business startups became relatively more rare, employees tended to stick at their jobs longer, said Steven Davis, an economist at the University of Chicago who studies labor-market churn. He and co-author John Haltiwanger presented the findings of diminished economic dynamism to central bankers at the Federal Reserve’s annual Jackson Hole, Wyo., symposium in August 2014.

The problem was exacerbated by the 2007-2009 recession. Fretful workers stayed in roles that weren’t good matches for them, also hurting national productivity. Now that they are looking for better matches, productivity could improve.

For the full story, see:

Harrison, David and Eric Morath. “Economy Spurs Job Hopping.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, July 5, 2018): A1-A2.

(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed year, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date July 4, 2018, and has the title “In This Economy, Quitters Are Winning.”)

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