Chamber president: Illinois’ ‘Great Resignation’ numbers look good

While many across the country quit their jobs over the past year, more Illinoisans stayed put. In the Land of Lincoln, only 2.4% of workers quit their jobs during the period termed the ‘Great  Resignation’ as compared to the 2.8% rate nationally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Todd Maisch, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, said this could be a good thing, or it could be a sign that workers in Illinois feel stuck.

“There may very well be a perception amongst the workforce that there are not as many job opportunities to access later if someone resigns their job today,” Maisch told The Center Square.

Breaking down the numbers by state region, Maisch points out it’s worth noting higher resignation rates were found in areas with growing employment.

“I think it’s very reasonable to suspect that at least some of the workforce says, ‘You know what, it will not be hard for me to find another job if I decide to go ahead and drop out of the workforce for a time,” he said.

Illinois ranks 30th among states for resignations, while over 47 million workers quit their jobs across the country in 2021. Maisch said nobody has figured out the one big reason for this shift, but he pointed out retirements also made up part of the resignation numbers and that combined with Illinois’ high cost of living may account for the lower numbers.

“People may decide that they’ve got to work longer to go ahead and pay those higher costs and therefore there are fewer retirements here in the state,” he said.

While the Great Resignation saw workers quit in record numbers, some experts say this is a trend that has been gathering momentum for a while, long before the pandemic. Taken in context of the resignation numbers over the past decade, 2021’s numbers are less shocking, the Harvard Business Review reported. Its data shows the average monthly quit rate increased by 0.10 percentage points each year from 2009 to 2019. Disrupted by 2020’s pandemic, the trend continued with a little extra vigor in 2021, the article stated. If this is the case, Illinois still weathered the trend better than other states last year, and all the reasons may not be negative. Illinois’ growing industries could be keeping people happy in their jobs, Maisch notes. Technology is another area where Illinois is flourishing, he noted, with Chicago drawing many from Silicon Valley and other places with exorbitantly high costs of living.