One in 10 workers changed jobs in the year to February, ABS says, giving credence to ‘Great Resignation’ claims


Source: Mick Tsikas / AAP Image

Nearly one in 10 Australian workers changed their job in the 12 months to February 2022, the Australian Bureau of Statistics says, the highest annual reading in a decade.

In a new tranche of job mobility data, released Tuesday, the ABS confirmed 9.5% of employed people, 1.3 million in total, changed job in the year to February 2022.

By way of comparison, 8.5% of employed Australians switched jobs in pre-pandemic 2019.

The latest reading was the highest since the year to February 2012, when 10.5% of workers undertook new employment.

The findings give evidence to the ‘Great Resignation’ theory — an assumption that COVID-19 restrictions, remote work practices, the potential for higher pay, and a reset of personal priorities have pushed white-collar workers to take on new jobs.

“While job mobility within the professional occupation group had the second lowest rate at 8.8%, professionals made up the largest share of total employment at 26.5%,” the ABS said.

“This equated to 280,000 professionals who changed jobs during the year ending February 2022, which was a 22.3% share of all people who changed jobs, up from 20.7% in the previous year.”

Those figures stood far above clerical and administrative workers, the next-highest sector, where 12.8% of workers left their job in the year to February 2022.

The reasoning behind that mobility gives credence to the ‘Great Migration’ theory, too.

Among those who left a job of their own volition, 33% said they did so to “get a better job” or just because “they wanted a change”, the ABS said.

Poor work arrangements, pay, or hours was the second-most important factor for job-leavers, accounting for 12.5% of job changes.

Retrenchments — which was the main reason Australians left their job in 2020, at 21.7% — also fell to 9.4% in the year to February 2022, suggesting more people left jobs because they wanted to, not because they had to.

High levels of job mobility across the populace are reflected in the tight labour market, which has led to skills shortages in key sectors, and a glut of job ads published online.

On Wednesday, Indeed APAC economist Callam Pickering said job listings on the platform were more than double that of February 1, 2020.

While job ads are anything but rare, and the appetite for change remains high, other challenges remain.

While unemployment is sitting at a stark 3.9%, employers, regulators, organised labour, and incoming Labor government are now faced with the problem of sluggish wage growth in a high inflation environment.


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Lencho Fanta
Lencho Fanta
1 month ago

I need ever jobs.

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