The 4 Jobs People Quit the Most


With the January 2016 unemployment rate at 4.9%, the downward trend of U.S. unemployment that we have been experiencing since March 2014 continues. However, as with everything else, the devil is in the details.

Having a job right now doesn't mean that you'll be holding that same job within the next year or so. And if you hold one of the four following jobs, high turnover rates indicate you'll be leaving a lot sooner than that.

1. Most Jobs at Amazon

In August 2015, the New York Times released a big exposé on Amazon's work environment based on the accounts of more than 100 current and former "Amazonians." While it's understandable that the online giant has to fight tooth-and-nail to preserve its position as the top retailer in the world, the expectations to deliver may be too overwhelming for most employees.

"Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk," reported one employee in books marketing during an interview. "You know that tomorrow you're going to look around and some people are going to have left the company or been managed out," wrote another former employee in advertising and marketing.

According to a 2013 Payscale survey, the median employee tenure at Amazon is one year, ranking third to last in the Fortune 500 list. Working at Amazon may not only be a short stint, but also can affect your future job prospects. While the work conditions are grueling at Amazon, those same high expectations appear to consistently churn out individuals with a strong work ethic who are in high demand by some Seattle recruiters. Still, other local recruiters stay away from former Amazon employees because of their pugnacious nature.

2. Jobs in the Life Insurance Industry

On the same Payscale survey, many Forbes 500 companies in the life insurance industry had a low median employee tenure as well:

  • Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company: 0.8 year
  • American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus (AFLAC): 1 year
  • New York Life Insurance Company: 1.4 years
  • The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company: 1.6 years
  • Guardian Life Insurance Company of America: 4.7 years
  • Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MetLife): 5 years

One of the main challenges of jobs in the life insurance industry is that they require you to stick around to actually start making a decent salary through referrals and residuals, yet those same jobs have a high churn rate (lots of personnel leaving within a short period of time). Difficulty in closing sales, high level of competition, and investment in certifications are some of the reasons for people to quit.

3. Registered Nurses (RNs)

The U.S. is facing a potential shortage of registered nurses. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor of Statistics, the average growth rate for all occupations is 7% for the period from 2014 to 2024, while that for the registered nurse profession is 16%!

Some surveys indicate that 43% of newly licensed hospital-based RNs leave their first jobs within three years of employment. On average, 17.5% of newly licensed RNs call it quits after just their first year. That rate is even higher for RNs in the East South Central region, with 25% of them leaving their first job.

The high turnover rate is caused by several factors, including high stress, lack of colleague support, and high pressure from supervisors. While the 2014 median pay was $66,640 per year for RNs, many nurses feel that they are underpaid due to the long hours they are required to work. Some nurses work 12-hour shifts (sometimes longer), which leads to a series of health issues, including obesity, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, glucose regulation, GI disorder, and reproductive problems.

4. Jobs in Leisure and Hospitality Industry

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Job Openings and Labor Turnover (JOLTS) program, the turnover rate in the leisure and hospitality industry has gone up for the fourth year in a row.

Here is a comparison to provide some context. In December 2015, 3.3% of workers in all U.S. non-farm industries left or were fired from their jobs. During the same period, 5.7% of workers in the leisure and hospitality industry lost or quit their jobs! That's the highest turnover rate of all industries tracked by the JOLTS program.

With the average production and nonsupervisory employee making only $12.67 per hour and being able to work 25 hours per week, it's not a surprise that employees have to change jobs to chase higher wages. With many of those employees making close to the hourly minimum wage, even the offer of a dollar extra per hour can be a strong motivator to switch jobs. Some of those workers are even opting to move to cities with current or scheduled higher minimum wages (See also: 6 American Cities With the Highest Minimum Wage).

What are other challenging jobs with high turnover rates?

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Guest's picture

So, is Amazon the virtual Walmart?

Damian Davila's picture

That's an interesting comparison! However, I would have to look more into Walmart's record to provide an answer.

Guest's picture

I'm surprised level 1 tech support, or call center worker wasn't in the top 10. Or is this career type jobs only?

Damian Davila's picture

You have a very valid point, Joshua. During my research, I had a hard time digging up data on that type of position. If you have any leads, please let me know.

Guest's picture

Call center customer service was the first job I thought of when I saw the article title.

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