The ‘Great Resignation’: Why workers are quitting

(CNN) – Millions of Americans lost their jobs during the COVID pandemic but something else happened, too. Millions more left voluntarily. It’s been called the “Great Resignation.”

Kate Santangelo picks up her 7-year-old daughter, Grace, from school. It’s something she’s waited years to do.

When asked if she recalls how often she was able to pick her daughter up from school, she replied, “Oh, my gosh, never.” But that all changed in April.

She quit her 15-year career in sales to be home full-time with her kids.

Kate said, “I was working endless hours and traveling a lot.”

CNN’s Vanessa Yurkevich asked, “If COVID didn’t happen, do you think that you still would have quit your job?”

“No, no, I think I’d still be there,” Kate said. “Yeah, without a doubt.”

She’s one of millions leaving the workforce in recent months, a record 4.4 million quit in September. It’s being called the “Great Resignation.”

Kate said, “We have had so much time to be sitting in our homes and spending time with people that we live with, and just shifting priorities.”

And she’s one of 4.7 million business applications filed from January through October of this year, a 34% increase from the same time period in 2019.

She founded Monmouth Moms, a resource guide for parents. Kate explained, “It allows me to take off if I need to bring my kids to the doctor or offer more flexibility in terms of when I can even schedule appointments for them.”

It’s not just moms leaving the workforce. Americans are retiring in greater numbers, too.

Scott and Mary Banks retired early this September at 57 and 59 respectively and are road tripping across the country. Scott quit his finance job, Mary left real estate.

Scott explained, “I said, ‘What would you think if we did it now instead of waiting three more years?’”

Mary said, “I pushed all my chips, and I’m all in.”

1.5 million Americans were on pace to retire during the pandemic. Instead, that number more than doubled to 3.6 million.

Scott said, “It was just that thought of, ‘Gosh, wouldn’t it be just a tragedy if we spent all this time working for our retirement, and then right near the finish line, you catch a horrible disease and die and never get to enjoy your retirement?’”

So, they capitalized on the hot housing market, sold their home, and hit the road.

Scott compared his life on the road to what he left behind. He said, “Gosh, I wish I could say it was tough. But no, it’s great. I do not miss at all working right now.”

The industries that have suffered the most from voluntary resignations are education, transportation, leisure and hospitality. They’re the same sectors that were having trouble keeping people even before the pandemic hit.

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