More people are quitting their jobs

And that's a good thing. But be careful when jumping ship, an expert warns, because 'one false move could cost you.'

By MSN Money Partner Feb 12, 2014 2:22PM

By Quentin Fottrell, MarketWatch

American workers may be gradually showing more confidence about quitting their jobs and taking that long-delayed retirement, data released Tuesday suggests, but experts say restless employees and would-be retirees shouldn't write their resignation letters just yet.

The percentage of U.S. workers who voluntarily left their jobs hit 1.7 percent in December, little changed from 1.8 percent in November, but still higher than the recent low of 1.2 percent in September 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Tuesday. 

A high "churn" or quit rate often means there are better job opportunities opening up -- and more opportunities for those seeking their first job. "But you have to be sure footed when you move," says Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. "This is an economy where one false move could cost you."

There were about 4.4 million so-called separations in December 2013, up slightly from 4.3 million in November; this is still down from 5.1 million in 2006, but a vast improvement on 3.9 million separations in 2011 at the height of the recession. 

The U.S. has a higher churn rate than most Western economies, Carnevale says, mostly because job stability isn't associated with wage growth. But he advises people to be careful about where they go. "Upward mobility in the American economy is most strongly associated with movement rather than promotion," he says.

The latest data shows more people are starting to find better opportunities and are in a better position to retire, says Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst at, a personal-finance research and publishing company. It shows they've landed a higher-paying and more suitable job, he says. 

Indeed, 22 percent of people feel more secure about their job security today versus last year, while 64 percent feel the same and only 14 percent feel less secure, according to Bankrate’s latest Financial Security Index. "This area has shown notable improvement over the last couple of years; 2013 was a turning point," he says.

Age also plays a big factor in the decision to make a move. "Staying with our current jobs long-term isn't necessarily a good thing for those under 30," says Corie Whalen, spokesperson for Generation Opportunity, a nonprofit think tank based in Arlington, Va. Many are stuck in part-time work and are overqualified, she says. Resign © bilderlounge, beyond fotomedia, Getty Images

If you are in your mid-40s, move sooner rather than later, Carnavale says. "If you’ve been at your company for 15 years, a lot of that knowledge isn't transferable. You may have all your company’s history and personalities in your head, but that has no value across the street."

Still, some experts don’t advise jumping ship just yet. The decision depends on your profession and education level, says Edison Byzyka, vice president of investments at Hefty Wealth Partners, Inc. in Auburn, Ind. 

"Given the fact that employers are reluctant to pick up on hiring relative to pre-recessionary levels, it doesn't seem to be the ideal time," he says. U.S. payrolls rose by 113,000 in January after rising just 75,000 in December, the Labor Department announced last week, marking the slowest two months of job growth in three years.

"What we have is a tale of two Americas," says Peter Morici, economist and professor at the University of Maryland's R.H. Smith School of Business. "It's not the Wall Street bankers versus everyone else -- it's the middle class versus the working class." Better jobs are still thin on the ground for the latter, he says. 

Last week, 55 percent of Americans said the economy was getting worse, while only 39 percent thought it was getting better, according to the “Gallup Economic Confidence Index,” based on a poll of 3,500 adults nationwide; 37 percent of Americans called the economy poor, while only 18 percent rated it as good or excellent.

However, the news is better for those who have been putting retirement off since 2008, says Michael Mussio, portfolio manager at investment adviser FBB Capital in Bethesda, Md. "People are regaining confidence as their net worth rebounds," he says. His clients expect 60 percent to 70 percent of their income to come from their investments and the rest from pensions. 

Since bottoming out at 6,548 on March 9, 2009, the Dow Jones industrials ($INDU) have risen more than 140 percent. Many boomers, however, remain skittish: 18 percent of those aged 50 to 64 are less secure this year than last versus 6 percent of those aged 18 to 29.

Retirees are also taking heart from a recovering housing market. Home prices rose by around 12 percent in 2013, according to real estate website Trulia. Some 9.3 million U.S. homes were "deeply underwater" at the end of 2013, meaning the owner owes 25 percent or more than the home’s estimated market value; that's down from 10.9 million the year before and 12.5 million in January 2012. 

"But it all boils down to your financial preparedness," McBride says. "If you have no money saved, you're not going to retire, even if you were planning to retire five years ago."

More from MarketWatch

Feb 12, 2014 3:38PM
McDonalds has just introduced the Obama Meal Deal - you order whatever you want and the guy behind you has to pay for it. They call it the AMA the (Affordable Meal Act).
Feb 12, 2014 4:05PM
My Dad and Uncle lost their good paying jobs and took huge pay cuts to find employment. Within a couple years they retired at 62 because they made about the same on social security a month. I bet that's what most of these people are doing.
Feb 12, 2014 3:29PM
It might be the only way to turn this country around. Everybody that is working should just quit working for a month or two and force our own government shutdown to show these stupid SOBs whose really in-charge and who is really paying the bills. If these stupid demowit communist bastards have their way we will soon become a third world country and there will be zero incentive for anybody to get a job because they will have produced an entire generation of lay-abouts willing to live off the gubmint cheese. However, they will be taking everything you work for to make sure the lay-abouts have the same size home, the same amount of cars, the same amount of money in the bank and be virtually equal in every way, except you will have worked for yours and they will have earned theirs by the fruits of your labor.  The thing about socialists and socialism is that eventually they run out of everybody else's money. Obamacare will seal the deal on creating an entire generation of lay-abouts. Why would anybody work if you could have everything you need without working? They have Welfare for spending money, Food Stamps for food, Section 8 housing for shelter, Obama phones for dealing their drugs. My guess is pretty soon Odumba$$ will announce the ACA (Affordable Car Act) where working people can subsidize a new car for the lay-abouts.
Feb 12, 2014 5:32PM
This author is putting the lipstick on the pig, but it is still a pig.  While the economic downturn did not start with Obama, his administration has done everything to make sure that it gets worse and encourages people not to work.
Feb 12, 2014 4:38PM

With each increasing 'news' article that MSN posts.. I keep wondering WHERE they

get their info and statistics?????  Leaving their jobs?  Because they 'want to'?  I

might have been born in the afternoon-- but it wasn't THIS afternoon!

Feb 12, 2014 8:43PM

People quitting their jobs is not "good news", what a twisted concept.  Everyone I know that quits is either fed up with getting treated like a dog or sick of giving up benefits, hours and pay for Corporate Greed.  "Good news" would be people happy with their jobs, it would be new BETTER jobs created, it would be the ONSHORING of offshored jobs.


By this twisted logic, next you'll tell us death and war are also "good news". 

Feb 12, 2014 5:36PM
This story is douchery at it's best. Really? Every headline you people post is nothing but propaganda. The only ones buying it are the ones who want a welfare state. There are people, including many people who are no longer looking for a job, who may have resigned themselves to poverty, but they are not stupid or fooled. Just remember, we know this is just the next step to communism, setting up those who will be bourgeoisie and who will be the proletarians. I just hope people wake up to this and use their power to vote these communists out of office before the right to vote is taken away. Voter fraud is already rampant... 
Feb 12, 2014 4:44PM
This must have been written in a legalized pot state! It is obviously part of the "Obamacare is good because it allows people NOT TO WORK!" These people can't even keep their lies straight. Is the middle class doomed in America as they keep telling us or is quitting your job the true path to riches and happiness? Upward mobility through termination? But be careful, if you turn the wrong way you fall on your own knife.

Many Americans are being forced into retirement, not choosing to retire. The truth in this article is near the end in "a tale of two Americas" and the "only 18 percent rated it (the economy) as good or excellent."

Whenever these folks start touting the recovery of the stock market it reminds us that the same people who ran the market and "lost billions" in the '08/09 crash are still in (and running) the stock market and are still millionaires! If you look closely they are the same who "lost billions" on "" crash of '87. At that time the DOW was at 2700! Today it's almost 16,000!   Do you think there is some air in there? You think it might be a rigged game?
Feb 12, 2014 9:50PM
I agree with Willy Johnson 100%, why should we pay for the losers any more.  I quit my job because of my health and have worked 37 years straight and paid taxes, (not got an earned income credit refund), paid social security and all the other state, county, city taxes.  I saw so many people in my line of work getting everything for free and never working for any of it or paying any taxes.  You name it, children of losers, illegal immigrants, 20 and 30 year olds on social security disability and I got sick and tired of working so that they didn't have too.  Funny part is I am essentially on life support, 99.7% pacemaker dependent, the only condition that Medicare will now pay for my type of heart device, yet the US Government has asked me to continue working till age 67 so I can support the losers of this country.  No thanks, now that I have quit my job, my husband and I will pay $20,000 less in taxes to support this embarrassing country and we can make it because we have prepared for this.  Screw you American Government!
Feb 12, 2014 8:19PM

We have to pass the bill before you can see what's in it, and if you want to keep your healthcare, you can. 

Feb 12, 2014 8:31PM
They are quitting because they are tired of working for Uncle Sam that's why. You make it and they take it so what is the point.  You have to pay taxes, you have to pay social security, you have to pay and that and now O bang me in the a*s care as well. Use your vote to take this country back from the hands of the Washington numb nuts before it is too late or the next drone strike will be in your back yard for not playing along with the government.   
Feb 12, 2014 9:40PM

Yea we should all retire go on food stamps welfare and Obama-care and spend our days playing Polo, and vacationing in Monte Carlo.

Better yet why even bother going to school and trying to get a job, just retire at 18 and Obama will pay all your bills.

Feb 12, 2014 5:26PM
Some may be retiring or quitting because of lack of incentive to work generated by more and more socialist "help" programs.  Why work if the government will provide for you with no effort on your part?  This, of course, is yet another drag on the economy with less productivity and higher taxes to provide the "benefits" of goofing off.
Feb 12, 2014 9:05PM
"A high "churn" or quit rate often means there are better job opportunities opening up" - Unfortunately, that better job opportunity is welfare programs...
Feb 12, 2014 4:14PM
They must be applying for some of Randall Flagg's " shovel ready Jobs " !!!!!
Feb 12, 2014 4:40PM
Mediocrity has hit the experienced employees in the face.  And their hands are tied by politically correct Employers/Bosses.  Word!

Feb 12, 2014 11:49PM
This is Obama's economy and he has had 5 years to make socialism work.  He is a miserable and total failure.
Feb 12, 2014 8:25PM
Doesn't matter how many people retire,if that is the primary cause of the uptick in people leaving their jobs.The uncertainty of the economy and market will prevent most employers from filling those jobs and will instead spread the duties of those who left over to the remaining staff. Who in their right mind wants to take a chance on this regime. There is no certainty of regulations tomorrow will be the same as today.The economy is in general teetering on a double dip recession and any jobs that could be created ,sans unions involvement have been dispense with (NAFTA, The Pipeline, Trade agreements with Central and South American countries).It hard to pay back over a billion dollars in political contributions without excluded everyone who didn't contribute.
Feb 12, 2014 8:57PM
So people taking early retirement and "voluntary leaving" is a good thing.  B.S.  What that 1.7% is showing is people who are taking severance packages, or leaving their current company because it is about to go under.  A sign of a good economy is people staying in the same job for a long period of time and not leaving until real retirement age, the opposite of what was stated above.
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