Employees Will Quit Rather Than Work for Too Little Pay

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More than a third of U.S. workers surveyed say they will seek a new job this year if their current employers do not come through with a raise. Employees under 35 making less than $50,000 a year are the most likely to hit the job-hunting trails, but older and better paid employees also say they will look elsewhere if no pay hike is forthcoming.

An improving economy and plenty of news coverage of record corporate profits are leading about 50% of those surveyed to say they expect a 3% to 5% pay increase in 2015. The survey was conducted by Glassdoor and included more than 900 workers. Nearly half of employees believe they can find a new job within six months that matches up with their experience and salary expectations.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest job openings and labor turnover survey, aka JOLTS, more than 2.5 million Americans quit their jobs in October 2014, up from about 2.3 million in October 2013. The quit rate (i.e., the number of quits as a percentage of total employment) rose by 10%, from 2.0% to 2.2%, in the same period.

A full 4.0% of hotel and food service workers quit their jobs last October, as did 2.9% of retail workers. Because these are among the lowest paying jobs available, it is reasonable to think that the workers who left these jobs needed the work and the pay but left for something better.

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Among the retail workers are auto salespeople, who posted a turnover rate of 66% in 2014, according to a survey by the National Automobile Dealers Association. Automotive News called it a chronic problem: “The challenges facing sales consultants are familiar: long and irregular hours, uncertain and variable pay and relatively low income.” And dealers do not seem to care, as the rate has increased from 62% in 2012.

Interestingly, manufacturing turnover is the lowest of all private industry, with just 1.0% of workers who make durable goods quitting their jobs. Turnover in government jobs is even lower, at 0.7% in October.

White-collar workers quit at a rate of 2.7% in October, which was lower than the September 2014 rate of 3.0%.

If the economy continues to improve, employers will almost have to boost their employees’ pay or risk losing them to competitors. Many, like the auto dealers, do not seem to care whether workers walk — it is simply a cost of doing business. Those costs will soon rise, one way or another.

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