Take this job and… keep it? Pa.’s “quits rate” lower than all 49 other states

Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Great Resignation? Not here.

Or at least, not by the standards of 49 other states.

“The Great Resignation” is what some economists are calling record-high levels of employee-driven job turnover — people laying off their employers, in other words, rather than the other way around. The reasons are a matter of debate: Are people feeling more emboldened than ever? More fed up? But the fact that it’s happening is indisputable.

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Sure enough, Pennsylvania’s “quits rate” has ticked up from early-pandemic-era lows, when almost anyone lucky enough to have a job was clinging to it. But at 2.1 percent for August, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is lower than in all 49 other states. The U.S. average is 2.9 percent. Three states — Kentucky, Georgia, and Idaho — have rates of more than 4 percent. (Among non-states, the 1.7-percent quits rate in Washington, D.C., is lower than the commonwealth’s.)

Why? Well, some people still like their jobs. Dustin Martin, the transportation manager for Martin’s Famous Pastry Shop near Chambersburg (who isn’t related to the family that owns the company), had been on the job more than eight years and says by that company’s standards, he’s just getting started.

“For example, I have a driver who’s been with us for 40-plus years,” Martin said. He said the company uses competitive wages to recruit new employees in a tight labor market but retains them with longer-term practices.

“They are family-owned and operated, so you have that kind of home, family-style business,” he said.

Still, Pennsylvania’s U.S.-low quits rate is an average of all companies and industries. Does that make it more surprising?

“I’m not surprised, because we have a higher number of careers that have low quit rates” such as education and healthcare, said Joseph Cunningham, an associate professor of business and economics at Wilson College in Chambersburg.

He said the low quits rate can be a reflection of both good and bad forces.

“People are worried about their financial health, and they don’t always have the opportunity to work remotely, and they’re in positions that they’re required to report to work,” he said, such as in the vast warehouses of central Pennsylvania.

On the other hand, some people simply don’t want to quit their hometowns for an opportunity elsewhere.

“They’re invested in their local communities as far as homeownership, and their children are in the local schools,” Cunningham said. “The ‘low-quit’ are less transient than people in the ‘Great Resignation.'”

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