Jul 28, 2022 - Economy

People with new jobs are making way more money

Year-over-year change in U.S. workers' real earnings
Data: Pew Research Center analysis of the Current Population Survey; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

Most people who switched employers between April 2021 and March 2022 saw an increase in their real earnings — despite surging inflation, according to a new Pew Research Center report.

Why it matters: Amid proof that the "great resignation" is paying off, people continue to hunt for new jobs in record numbers, though they're growing more concerned that the tight labor market may be changing, a Pew survey shows.

  • 22% of U.S. adults say they are "very" or "somewhat" likely to look for a new job in the next six months, Pew found in a poll of 6,174 people conducted from June 27 to July 4.
  • But 37% say they think finding a new job will be "very" or "somewhat" difficult.
  • "Despite reports of hiring and so on, there seems to be more worry," Rakesh Kochhar, a Pew senior researcher, tells Axios.

Driving the news: 60% of people saw an increase in real earnings after they switched employers, compared with 47% of those who remained in the same job, Pew found.

  • The median worker who found a new job enjoyed a 9.7% bump in inflation-adjusted earnings, compared to a -1.7% dip for those who stayed put.
  • The recent trend was quite different from the previous year: From April 2020 to March 2021, 51% of job-switchers saw a real earnings income boost, versus 54% of people who stayed put.
  • "Put another way, the median worker who changed employers saw real gains in earnings in both periods, while the median worker who stayed in place saw a loss during the April 2021 to March 2022 period," Pew said.
  • Low pay was the top reason people say they quit their jobs in 2021, according to a Pew survey conducted in February.

The higher income that some people reported "happened despite a surge in the rate of inflation that has eroded real earnings for many others," Pew noted.

By the numbers: In the first quarter of this year, 4 million workers a month changed jobs, for an overall rate of 2.5% — compared with 2.3% in the same period last year, Pew said.

Between the lines: While the "great resignation" is sometimes viewed as a product of white-collar burnout, the Pew research found otherwise: Workers with a bachelor's degree or higher switched jobs at a rate of 2.1% in the first quarter of this year, about the same as in 2019.

  • The rate was 3.5% for workers without a high school diploma, compared with 2.8% in 2019.
  • Young adults 16 to 24 were the age group most likely to change employers in an average month: 4.4% in 2022 versus 4.1% in 2019.
  • Black and Hispanic workers were more likely to switch employers than white and Asian employees.

Methodology: The Pew report's findings are based on a survey of 6,174 U.S. adults conducted from June 27 to July 4 and an analysis of U.S. government data.

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