Workplace Purgatory: Hating the Job, But Reluctant to Quit

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According to the Wall Street Journal, 2% of workers voluntarily left their jobs each month before the recession started. In April 2011, however, only 1.4% of employees did so, despite all of the factors that indicate workers are less happy with where they’re working.

Bloomberg Businessweek calculates that since January 2009, 1 million people per month have been hanging on to jobs that they normally would have quit. Added up, through April that’s 28 million workers who have decided against jumping ship. You probably understand why. As the Businessweek story states, what this all means is that no matter how unhappy workers are, they lack confidence in the economy, and aren’t ready to give their bosses ultimatums:

The willingness of employees to quit their jobs “is probably the best single indicator of how confident workers are,” says Lawrence Katz, a Harvard University labor economics professor. “When people are unwilling to quit, they don’t have the leverage to press for wage increases.”

So for now, the typical worker remains in purgatory — clearly unhappy, but also unwilling and/or unable to do much about it.

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