You are currently viewing It’s not the ‘big quit’, but more Australians are changing jobs

It’s not the ‘big quit’, but more Australians are changing jobs

The past year has been inundated with suggestions that countries such as Australia are experiencing a ‘great quit’ as workers previously loyal to their employers quit their jobs and seek others elsewhere.

Last year, apart from newspaper reports, there was little evidence of this in Australia, although substantial evidence in the United States, where the term comes from.

In the United States, so-called “quit rates” hit an all-time high in 2021, while in Australia the proportion of workers changing jobs has fallen to its lowest level in half a century.

Writing in November, University of Melbourne economists Mark Wooden and Peter Gahan pointed out that in the United States, COVID-19 had made government jobs unsafe, which may have contributed to people are leaving these roles in droves.

Quit rates had not climbed in finance or information technology jobs in the United States.

In Australia, where border closures, mask mandates and vaccination mandates have made public-facing jobs safer, job switching has continued its long-term decline.

So far. The February Annual Mobility Survey released by the Bureau of Statistics in May shows a slight increase in the proportion of workers changing from a record low of 7.5% to 9.5%.



One way to look at the upside is to say that Australia has the highest rate of change since 2012. If the records only went back to 2012, we could say that Australia had the highest rate of change never recorded.

But here’s the thing. US records date back only to December 2000. If they were any further back, US quit rates could be seen to be on the same type of long-term decline as Australia’s. We just don’t know.



In the case of Australia, recent rates of job mobility over the past ten or twenty years have been extraordinarily low compared to historic levels of job mobility. As far as we know, this is also the case in the United States.

At one point in the late 1980s, nearly one in five Australian workers changed jobs within a year. These days, even after the last hike, it’s one out of 10.

The upside could be little more than a rebound from a specific all-time low caused by lockdowns and border closures.

We can be sure that the increase in job changes is not due to an increase in layoffs. Australia’s layoff rate (the number of people laid off in a year as a proportion of the number of employees at the start of this year) fell to its lowest level in 50 years in February.



Another thing we know is that there are more vacancies (and more vacancies per unemployed person) than ever before in Australia.

There were 423,500 unfilled jobs in February and 563,300 unemployed, meaning there were just 1.3 unemployed seeking every job vacancy, the slowest ratio on record since 1980.


More vacancies for every unemployed person than ever before

Seasonally adjusted.
ABS workforce, job vacancies

This probably means that more people will soon be tempted to change jobs.

They might even do so, which means the rise will continue when the numbers are updated next February. Watch this place.The conversation

Martin Edwards is Associate Professor of Management and Business at the University of Queensland.

This article is republished from The conversation under Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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