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The “Churn Rate:” Insights into Just How Many Workers Are Leaving Jobs Today and What This Portends for the Future of Employment

by David Wyld 2 months ago in industry / economy / career / business / advice
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Recent data from the Census reveals just how profound the effects of “The Great Resignation” are across the employment landscape in the U.S.

The “Churn Rate:” Insights into Just How Many Workers Are Leaving Jobs Today and What This Portends for the Future of Employment
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Introduction

We hear a great deal today about “The Great Resignation.” In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the face of "tectonic changes" in the way many businesses operate, and in light of one of the best marketplaces for workers in recent history, more and more Americans are willing - and eager - to leave their jobs today. Whether it is to simply change jobs for a better opportunity in the same field, to change careers to something that might just be more meaningful (and maybe pay better), to start their own business, or to withdraw from the workforce altogether, the U.S. workforce seems to be more fluid than ever. Companies of every size in every industry are struggling to adapt to what is becoming a war for talent, where workers seem to suddenly have the upper hand in the employment equation.

But just how bad (for management) and good (for workers) is the employment situation today in your specific industry? Some insight can be gleaned from the latest employment data coming out of the Census Bureau, which continually tracks jobs across a hundred different occupational areas. Recently, the non-profit, non-partisan group, USA Facts, released a report (Which Americans are leaving their occupations?) looking at the most recent 5 years (2017-2021) of Census data, examining employment trends spanning the pre-pandemic, pandemic, and now, the post-pandemic periods.

In this article, I will show the results of my analysis of one key aspect of the employment picture today for companies everywhere, namely just how volatile certain areas of the economy are in terms of what I am terming as the “Churn Rate” of their workforce. The Churn Rate is the percentage of workers in an occupational area who leave their job - for whatever reason - in the course of a year. The Churn Rate then encompasses the overall percentage of workers who choose to switch to another occupation, quit and take a similar job, or simply leave the employment workforce (whether to pursue their own business, to retire, for health or family reasons, etc.).

For this article, I’ve taken the Census data, compiled by USA Facts, and run the numbers on the Churn Rate across the hundred occupational areas that the Census tracks to show just how many people are leaving their jobs (whether switching occupations or simply quitting one job to take a similar one elsewhere) today, looking at the most recent annual employment data available (that being last year, 2021). You will see that across a wide variety of occupations spanning a large number of industries, and even the public sector, the “Churn Rate” is a very real thing. After revealing the findings of the present analysis of the Churn Rate, we will conclude with a look at how our increasingly “free agent economy” will have profound effects on how we work and yes, how we manage, both now and into the future.

By Sarah Brown on Unsplash

The Churn Rate Across All Major Occupational Groups Today

So, what is the Churn Rate in your particular industry or line of work? Table 1 (Ranking the 100 Most Common Occupations According to Their Churn Rate for 2021) below shows the ranking of the top 100 occupations tracked by the Census Bureau according to their Churn Rates last year (2021). As will be the case with all three rankings presented, the occupational areas are ranked 1 to 99, as the Census data separates out production workers into 2 categories, rather than presenting them as a single group.

Table 1: Ranking the 100 Most Common Occupations According to Their Churn Rate for 2021

1. Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs (37%)

2. Athletics (Athletes, Coaches, Umpires and Related Workers) (34%)

3. Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers (Including Fast Food) (34%)

4. Restaurant Servers (Waiters and Waitresses) (33%

5. Bartenders (32%)

6. Recreation and Fitness Workers (32%)

7. Other Teachers and Instructors (32%)

8. Childcare Workers (30%)

9. Cashiers (29%)

10. Couriers and Messengers (28%)

11. Food Preparation Workers (27%)

12. Stock Clerks and Order Fillers (27%)

13. Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioner Support Technicians (26%)

14. Welding, Soldering, and Brazing Workers (26%)

15. Hand Packers and Packagers (26%)

16. Human Resources Managers (26%)

17. Office Clerks (General) (26%)

18. Grounds Maintenance Workers (26%)

19. Food Supervisors (First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers) (25%)

20. Painters, Construction, and Maintenance Workers (25%)

21. Retail Salespersons (25%)

22. Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and Weighers (24%)

23. Industrial Truck and Tractor Operators (24%)

24. Receptionists and Information Clerks (23%)

25. Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists (23%)

26. Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners (23%)

27. Sales Representatives (Services, All Other Areas) (22%)

28. Personal Care Aides (22%)

29. Production Workers (22%)

30. Clergy (22%)

31. Industrial and Refractory Machinery Mechanics (21%)

32. Customer Service Representatives (21%)

33. Chefs and Cooks (21%)

34. Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers (21%)

35. Plumbing (Pipelayers, Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters) (20%)

36. Diagnostic Related Technologists and Technicians (20%)

37. Shipping, Receiving, and Traffic Clerks (20%)

38. Maintenance and Repair Workers, General (20%)

39. Insurance Sales Agents (20%)

40. Food Service and Lodging Managers (19%)

41. Other Business Operations and Management Specialists (19%)

42. Billing and Posting Clerks (19%)

43. Designers (18%)

44. Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers (18%)

45. Nursing, Psychiatric and Home Health Aides (18%)

46. Bus and Ambulance Drivers and Attendants (18%)

47. Social and Community Service Managers (18%)

48. Medical and Health Services Managers (18%)

49. Janitors and Building Cleaners (18%)

50. Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics (18%)

51. Drivers/Sales Workers and Truck Drivers (18%)

52. Computer Support Specialists (18%)

53. Teacher Assistants (18%)

54. Preschool and Kindergarten Teachers (17%)

55. Secretaries and Administrative Assistants (17%)

56. Wholesale/Manufacturing Sales (Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing (16%)

57. Licensed Practical and Vocational Nurses (16%)

58. Educational Administrators (16%)

59. Management Analysts (16%)

60. Construction Laborers (15%)

61. Engineering Technicians (Except Drafters) (15%)

62. Civil Engineers (15%)

63. HVAC Technicians (Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers) (15%)

64.Construction Equipment Operators (Except Paving, Surfacing and Tamping Equipment Operators) (15%)

65. Computer Programmers (15%)

66. Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists (15%)

67. Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks (14%)

68. Security (Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers) (14%)

69. Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents (13%)

70. Human Resources, Training, and Labor Relations Specialists (13%)

71. Managers in Marketing, Advertising, and Public Relations (12%)

72.Postsecondary Teachers (12%)

73. Corrections (Sheriffs, Bailiffs, Correctional Officers, and Jailers) (12%)

74. General and Operations Managers (12%)

75. Construction Managers (11%)

76. Personal Financial Advisors (11%)

77. Counselors (11%)

78. Credit Counselors and Loan Officers (11%)

79. Social Workers (11%)

80. Computer Scientists and Systems Analysts (Including Network Systems Analysts and Web Developers) (11%)

81. Police Officers and Detectives (10%)

82. Computer and Information Systems Managers (10%)

83. Physicians and Surgeons (9%)

84. Special Education Teachers (9%)

85. Elementary and Middle School Teachers (9%)

86. Carpenters (9%)

87. Paralegals and Legal Assistants (9%)

88. Software Developers (Applications and Systems Software) (9%)

89. Secondary School Teachers (8%)

90. Financial Managers (8%)

91. Electricians (7%)

92. Sales Managers (First-Line Supervisors of Sales Workers) (7%

93. Registered Nurses (7%)

94. Public Administrators (Chief Executives and Legislators/Public Administration) (7%)

95. Office Supervisors (First-Line Supervisors of Office and Administrative Support Workers) (7%)

96. Accountants and Auditors (6%)

97. Construction Supervisors (First-Line Supervisors of Construction Trades and Extraction Workers) (6%)

98. Production/Operations Supervisors (First-Line Supervisors of Production and Operating Workers) (6%)

99. Judicial Workers (Lawyers, Judges, Magistrates, and Other Judicial Workers) (3%)

* Note: Production Workers (All*): Category Combines Both Production Workers Doing General Assembly Work and Those Employed Producing or Assembling Semiconductors and Other Computing Technology

Source Data: https://usafacts.org/projects/jobs/who-leaves

By Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

The average Churn Rate across all occupations last year was 17.85%, with a wide, wide variance to be found across various categories of jobs. As you can see, taxi drivers and chauffeurs had the highest Churn Rate of the ninety-nine occupational groups tracked by the Census Bureau. Restaurant workers generally had a high Churn Rate, comprising both 3 of the top 5 and 5 of the top 20 occupational areas in terms of workers leaving their jobs. However, there were high rates to be found across a wide variety of occupations, from teaching to health care to the service industry to office work. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the lowest Churn Rate was found amongst Judicial Workers (Lawyers, Judges, Magistrates, and Other Judicial Workers) at just 3%. In all, 20 occupational areas had a Churn Rate of 10% or less annually as of last year.

Taking into consideration the Census Bureau’s data on the total number of people employed in any given occupational area, applying the Churn Rate for that particular field shows us the actual “flux” in a specific line of work. As you can see in Table 2 (Ranking the 100 Most Common Occupations According to the Number of Workers Leaving Their Jobs in 2021), the rankings of the occupational groups here according to the sheer numbers of people leaving, varies markedly from the rankings in Table 1, where occupations were ranking according to their rates of job changes. Overall though, the bottom-line number - and really the top-line one as well - is this: Well over 20 million workers left their jobs just in 2021!

Table 2: Ranking the 100 Most Common Occupations According to the Number of Workers Leaving Their Jobs in 2021

1. Cashiers: 870,000 (29% Churn Rate”)

2. Retail Salespersons: 744,000 (24% “Churn Rate”)

3. Restaurant Servers: (Waiters and Waitresses) 693,000 (33% “Churn Rate”)

4. Drivers/Sales Workers and Truck Drivers: 666,000 (18% “Churn Rate”)

5. Customer Service Representatives: 630,000 (21% “Churn Rate”)

6. Stock Clerks and Order Fillers: 567,000 (27% “Churn Rate”)

7. Chefs and Cooks: 560,000 (20% “Churn Rate”)

8. Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers: 550,000 (22% “Churn Rate”)

9. Production Workers (All*): 528,000 (22% “Churn Rate”)

10. Janitors and Building Cleaners: 450,000 (18% “Churn Rate”)

11. Secretaries and Administrative Assistants: 432,000 (16% “Churn Rate”)

12. Nursing, Psychiatric and Home Health Aides: 378,000 (18% “Churn Rate”)

13. Office Clerks, General: 375,000 (25% “Churn Rate”)

14. Childcare Workers: 360,000 (30% “Churn Rate”)

15. Construction Laborers: 360,000 (15% “Churn Rate”)

16. Personal Care Aides: 352,000 (22% “Churn Rate”)

17. Grounds Maintenance Workers: 350,000 (25% “Churn Rate”)

18. Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners: 345,000 (23% “Churn Rate”)

19. Sales Managers (First-Line Supervisors of Sales Workers): 329,000 (7% “Churn Rate”)

20. Elementary and Middle School Teachers: 324,000 (9% “Churn Rate”)

21. Receptionists and Information Clerks: 312,000 (24% “Churn Rate”)

22. Other Teachers and Instructors: 306,218 (31% “Churn Rate”)

23. Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers (Including Fast Food): 301,580 (34% “Churn Rate”)

24. Food Preparation Workers: 297,000 (27% “Churn Rate”)

25. Food Service and Lodging Managers: 266,000 (19% “Churn Rate”)

26. Registered Nurses: 259,000 (7% “Churn Rate”)

27. Teacher Assistants: 255,000 (17% “Churn Rate”)

28. Hand Packers and Packagers: 232,596 (26% “Churn Rate”)

29. Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and Weighers: 215,520 (24% “Churn Rate”)

30. Couriers and Messengers: 214,803 (29% “Churn Rate”)

31. Computer Scientists and Systems Analysts (Including Network Systems Analysts and Web Developers): 209,000 (11% “Churn Rate”)

32. Wholesale/Manufacturing Sales (Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing): 208,000 (16%“Churn Rate”)

33. Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioner Support Technicians: 195,702 (26% “Churn Rate”)

34. Software Developers (Applications and Systems Software): 189,000 (9% “Churn Rate”)

35. Designers: 180,000 (18% “Churn Rate”)

36. Other Business Operations and Management Specialists: 172,007 (19% “Churn Rate”)

37. Managers in Marketing, Advertising, and Public Relations: 168,000 (12% “Churn Rate”)

38. Management Analysts: 165,000 (15% “Churn Rate”)

39. Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists: 164,588 (23% “Churn Rate”)

40. Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics: 163,368 (18% “Churn Rate”)

41. Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs: 162,652 (37% “Churn Rate”)

42. Bartenders : 158,301 (33% “Churn Rate”)

43. Human Resources, Training, and Labor Relations Specialists: 156,000 (13% “Churn Rate”)

44. Medical and Health Services Managers: 154,638 (18% “Churn Rate”)

45. Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks: 154,000 (14% “Churn Rate”)

46. Welding, Soldering, and Brazing Workers: 149,474 (26% “Churn Rate”)

47. Educational Administrators: 149,235 (15% “Churn Rate”)

48. Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers: 146,160 (18% “Churn Rate”)

49.Painters, Construction, and Maintenance: 144,975 (25% “Churn Rate”)

50. Postsecondary Teachers: 144,000 (12% “Churn Rate”)

51. Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents: 143,000 (13% “Churn Rate”)

52. Security (Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers): 140,000 (14% “Churn Rate”)

53. Industrial Truck and Tractor Operators: 136,704 (24% “Churn Rate”)

54. General and Operations Managers: 132,000 (12% “Churn Rate”)

55. Social Workers: 132,000 (11% “Churn Rate”)

56. Recreation and Fitness Workers: 130,977 (33% “Churn Rate”)

57. Maintenance and Repair Workers, General: 130,600 (20% “Churn Rate”)

58. Plumbing (Pipelayers, Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters): 129,240 (20% “Churn Rate”)

59. Food Supervisors (First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers): 126,425 (25% “Churn Rate”)

60. Sales Representatives (Services, All Other Areas): 125,400 (22% “Churn Rate”)

61. Shipping, Receiving, and Traffic Clerks: 124,980 (20% “Churn Rate”)

62. Athletics (Athletes, Coaches, Umpires and Related Workers): 124,814 (34% “Churn Rate”)

63. Insurance Sales Agents: 123,640 (20% “Churn Rate”)

64. Construction Managers: 120,000 (12% “Churn Rate”)

65. Human Resources Managers: 118,872 (26% “Churn Rate”)

66. Carpenters: 117,000 (9% “Churn Rate”)

67. Preschool and Kindergarten Teachers: 116,637 (17% “Churn Rate”)

68. Computer Support Specialists: 115,218 (18% “Churn Rate”)

69. Public Administrators (Chief Executives and Legislators/Public Administration): 112,000 (7% “Churn Rate”)

70. Financial Managers: 112,000 (8% “Churn Rate”)

71. Counselors: 110,000 (11% “Churn Rate”)

72. Bus and Ambulance Drivers and Attendants: 109,458 (18% “Churn Rate”)

73. Accountants and Auditors: 108,000 (6% “Churn Rate”)

74. Industrial and Refractory Machinery Mechanics: 106,869 (21% “Churn Rate”)

75. Billing and Posting Clerks: 106,837 (19% “Churn Rate”)

76. Office Supervisors (First-Line Supervisors of Office and Administrative Support Workers): 98,000 (7%“Churn Rate”)

77. Clergy: 96,954 (22% “Churn Rate”)

78. Diagnostic Related Technologists and Technicians: 93,140 (20% “Churn Rate”)

79. Police Officers and Detectives: 92,510 (10% “Churn Rate”)

80. Physicians and Surgeons: 90,000 (9% “Churn Rate”)

81. Computer Programmers: 86,955 (15% “Churn Rate”)

82. Secondary School Teachers: 86,553 (9% “Churn Rate”)

83. Licensed Practical and Vocational Nurses: 84,288 (16% “Churn Rate”)

84. Social and Community Service Managers : 79,794 (18% “Churn Rate”)

85. Computer and Information Systems Managers: 75,140 (10% “Churn Rate”)

86. Civil Engineers: 68,912 (16% “Churn Rate”)

87. HVAC Technicians (Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers): 68,490 (15%“Churn Rate”)

88. Construction Equipment Operators (Except Paving, Surfacing and Tamping Equipment Operators): 65,925 (15% “Churn Rate”)

89. Electricians: 61,929 (7% “Churn Rate”)

90. Personal Financial Advisors: 60,137 (11% “Churn Rate”)

91. Engineering Technicians (Except Drafters): 59,625 (15% “Churn Rate”)

92. Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists: 57,135 (15% “Churn Rate”)

93. Corrections (Sheriffs, Bailiffs, Correctional Officers, and Jailers): 49,491 (13% “Churn Rate”)

94. Production/Operations Supervisors (First-Line Supervisors of Production and Operating Workers): 48,348 (6% “Churn Rate”)

95. Credit Counselors and Loan Officers: 48,312 (11% “Churn Rate”)

96. Paralegals and Legal Assistants: 41,103 (9% “Churn Rate”)

97. Construction Supervisors (First-Line Supervisors of Construction Trades and Extraction Workers): 40,110 (6% “Churn Rate”)

98. Judicial Workers (Lawyers, Judges, Magistrates, and Other Judicial Workers): 39,000 (3% “Churn Rate”)

99. Special Education Teachers: 35,514 (9% “Churn Rate”).

* Note: Production Workers (All*): Category Combines Both Production Workers Doing General Assembly Work and Those Employed Producing or Assembling Semiconductors and Other Computing Technology

Source Data: https://usafacts.org/projects/jobs/who-leaves

By Isaac Smith on Unsplash

Analysis

As a strategic management consultant and professor, I personally see these findings as nothing less than a call to action for management across the board! We’ve seen a lot of focus in the media - and rightly so - about just how profound the changes are in the ways we, as a society, shop, dine, work, socialize - well, the way we do just about everything in our work and personal lives - in the wake of massive technological, social, demographic and economic changes, as well as dealing with the aftereffects from the COVID-19 pandemic. The changing employment picture - and the view of the employment equation on the part of both employers and employees - is not just a major problem for the service sector in areas like retail and restaurants. Today, these changes and challenges are everywhere - and they are profound. We are witnessing a very real transformation - in real time - of the way both management and workers view each other and the grand employment bargain. In the short-term, we see the very real consequences of a high - and likely accelerating - Churn Rate.

By Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

Employers will continue to have to try to “throw money at the problem” and compete with higher pay for a shrinking pool of willing workers - not because, as many believe, there are just not enough people who want to work. Rather, today, we live in a world full of options, where “working” more and more does not mean working for someone - or even having a formal “job.” More and more, people everywhere - and of every age and every background and every station of life - are exploring their options like never before. And yes, that means people - jaded by decades of the employment equation being tilted in favor of companies - are exploring - and enjoying - having a new power to not just change jobs, but change careers, seemingly at the drop of a hat.

And so I fully expect the Churn Rate to be a HUGE issue for companies of all kinds and of all sizes to have to wrestle with for years to come - maybe permanently! Management will have to really rethink how they hire, who they hire, and even more importantly, how they can retain and offer opportunities for professional and personal growth to the people they employ. And yes, the whole notion of “employment” may need to radically change, as we enter an era where more and more, we all are ultimately free agents when it comes to our work. In short, buckle up, as it’s going to be a wild ride! But I am confident as a management expert that we will evolve into a new, better model of work when the dust settles!

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About David Wyld

David Wyld is a Professor of Strategic Management at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. He is a management consultant, researcher/writer, publisher, executive educator, and experienced expert witness. You can view all of his work at https://authory.com/DavidWyld.

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industryeconomycareerbusinessadvice

About the author

David Wyld

Professor, Consultant, Doer. Founder/Publisher of The IDEA Publishing (http://www.theideapublishing.com/) & Modern Business Press (http://www.modernbusinesspress.com)

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