Economist: Utah’s Great Resignation fueled by ‘opportunity quits’

Dec 1, 2021, 7:21 PM | Updated: 9:01 pm

OREM, Utah – The number of Utahns quitting their jobs jumped sharply in the month of September, according to updated data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Nationwide in September, a record 4.4 million workers quit their jobs, the report said. The accelerated pace at which people are leaving their employers behind is being called the Great Resignation. 

“Most of the quits that have been going on across the country and here in the state of Utah are quits to go get another job, so the hires are up also,” said Mark Knold, the chief economist for the Utah Department of Workforce Services. “So I call most of these opportunity quits.” 

In Utah, 58,000 people said farewell to their employers that month, a 38% increase compared to August when 42,000 Utahns quit. 

According to an analysis from The Wall Street Journal, Utah had the 4th highest percentage increase in job quits in September when compared to the month before. 

For further comparison, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 43,000 Utahns quit their jobs in July and that in June there were 46,000 people giving notice. 

“This is people looking for something better,” Knold said. “Moving up the wage scale, moving up the skill scale, and so on.” 

Knold said the level of people quitting isn’t out of historical norms for the Beehive State. He also attributed some of the job resignations to some older workers deciding to retire due to increased wealth from a booming housing market and the strong stock market. 

“This jump between August and September is a one-month jump,” he said. “We’ll see if it holds for several more months to see if it’s a trend or nothing more than a survey anomaly.” 

As people move up the wage scale, Knold said it’s the leisure and hospitality industry that’s hardest hit in the struggle to attract workers. 

The jump in people quitting their jobs comes at the same time that Utah has the lowest unemployment rate on record with thousands sitting on the sidelines and not returning to the labor force since the pandemic started. 

Mike Neal who owns Neal's RV Center in Orem is increasing wages and putting up “help wanted” signs around his dealership after his job listings stopped drawing workers. (KSL TV)

The lack of workers is causing frustration for business owners.  

“I used to work 8 to 9 hours a day, now I’m working 12 hours a day,” said Mike Neal, owner of Neal’s RV Center in Orem. 

Neal is increasing wages and putting up “help wanted” signs around his dealership after his job listings stopped drawing workers. 

“I set up appoints to come in and be interviewed and they either didn’t show up or they didn’t call,” Neal said. “I didn’t get one person who would actually come in.” 

He’s in need of service technicians and salespeople and is willing to train employees. He said he’s never experienced this type of hiring climate before. 

“Some days I feel like maybe just hanging it up,” he said. “Maybe it’s time to sell and retire.” 

The Utah Retail Merchants Association warns that the labor shortage is hitting just as shoppers are returning to stores. 

“It’s obviously a major concern for us as we move into the holiday season because we do tend to employ a lot of seasonal workers,” said Dave Davis, the association’s president and CEO. “We always ask that customers be patient and recognize that it is difficult to find workers at this time.” 


KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

(Mark Less/ KSL TV)...
Alex Cabrero

Utah cattle ranchers losing calves to winter conditions

Many cattle ranchers have lost calves due to the deep snow and cold weather.
1 day ago
Follow @KSL5TVLike us on Facebook...
Andrew Adams

Vintage motorcycle stolen, owner asks public for help to find it

A man was asking for help Wednesday to locate his stolen, fully-restored vintage motorcycle.
1 day ago
Exibit shows Utah's air was a concern as far back as the 1880s....
Jed Boal

Exhibit: Concerns about Utah’s air quality go back to Brigham Young

An online exhibit details Utah’s unique air pollution problem going back to the 1880s when Utahns referred to the winter pollution as “smoke evil” or the “smoke nuisance”. 
1 day ago
An empty donation table with the American Red Cross logo. (Jon Cherry/Getty Images)...
Katija Stjepovic

Red Cross warns Utahns to be prepared for flooding, spring runoff. Here’s how.

The American Red Cross has a warning for Utahns this spring – prepare for the possibility of flooding in the coming months.
1 day ago
Bags of small pills are lined up....
Mike Anderson

Fentanyl use on the rise in Box Elder County

Police in Box Elder County say fentanyl is hitting their community hard as overdoses and deaths have gone up in recent months.
1 day ago
Driver killed...
Eliza Pace

Four injured in yurt explosion

Four people have been transported to the hospital following a yurt explosion in Deer Valley Wednesday afternoon.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Close up of an offset printing machine during production...
Les Olson IT

Top 7 Reasons to Add a Production Printer to Your Business

Learn about the different digital production printers and how they can help your company save time and money.
vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Economist: Utah’s Great Resignation fueled by ‘opportunity quits’