In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, workforce dynamics have shifted significantly as employees quit their jobs in massive waves. Whether it is for personal safety concerns, seeking new opportunities, an improved work-life balance, or other factors, this has resulted in some industries facing labor shortages.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) published new figures at the beginning of January, indicating that 4.5 million people quit their jobs in November 2021, a high that may continue to rise over time. Some industries are more impacted than others, as seen by BLS data charts that compare monthly quit levels between November 2020 and November 2021:
- Accommodation and food service had 566,000 quits grow to 920,000
- Healthcare and social assistance had 400,000 quits grow to 598,000
- Retail trade had 540,000 quits grow into 686,000
- Manufacturing had 235,000 quits grow into 293,000
- Education had 46,000 quits grow into 62,000
Other entities agree that the workforce will continue to face shifting dynamics. A PWC survey found that 65% of employees are looking for new jobs, with 88% of executives experiencing higher than normal turnover. Meanwhile, a survey conducted among Fortune 500 CEOs found that 73% of CEOs anticipate work shortages will disrupt business over the next year, with 57% of CEOs stating that attracting talent will be a major challenge.
The pandemic already made working conditions much more difficult than normal, but as more and more people leave certain industries, this may create even more strenuous conditions for remaining workers. From a workers’ comp perspective, this can potentially create more risk for certain overworked employees. It can also impact premiums, claim volume, and several other matters.
Executives are exploring ways to attract and retain employees amidst this wave of resignations, but in the long-term it is unknown how larger workforce dynamics will stabilize. Other industries could see influxes of new employees as some industries continue to see declining numbers. For instance, it is estimated that 1 in 5 healthcare workers quit their job since the beginning of the pandemic. These workers could end up in a wide variety of industries, shifting the workforce even further.