KENTUCKY — It's been called the "Great Resignation." Kentuckians are quitting their jobs at a higher rate than any other state, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What You Need To Know

  • Kentucky has the highest quit rate of any state in the country

  • The state reported a 4.5% quit rate in August

  • One economist said people are quitting due to lingering effects of the pandemic

  • The availability of jobs has lead to a lot of people “job hopping”

Over 84,000 Kentuckians quit their jobs in the month of August, according to the "State job openings and labor turnover" report. That’s a 26,000-person increase from the number of people who quit in July.

The commonwealth's 4.5% quit rate was the highest rate in the country. Quit rate refers to the total number of workers who quit during an entire month as a percent of total employment.

Northern Kentucky University economist Janet Harrah said three lingering effects of the pandemic are likely to blame.

“We've seen an enormous withdrawal of the labor force from women. And that’s simply a function of: they can’t get the childcare they need to work,” she said.

In addition, Harrah said, older workers who don’t want to put their health at risk are retiring. Rural states are also more affected, she said.

“Part of that is because of the jobs that are in rural communities. They tend to be more service oriented, more face to face, and usually not as high paying," Harrah said. "The risk reward is not there, so people are quitting at higher rates."

“We saw that especially in Kentucky in August, as the delta numbers started to surge in June, July and August," she added. "And we saw the quit rates rise along with that.”

A lot of people quitting are doing so because of the swath of jobs available to them due to labor shortages. Kentucky’s hire rate is the fifth highest in the country, according to labor statistics.

“The labor turnover is at a rate such that there’s more people quitting and being laid off and retiring than there are being hired. By some estimates, we might have as many as two job openings for every person in the labor force that’s available to work,” Harrah said.

Harrah said once the pandemic is truly over, job numbers will go back up. However, the pandemic has accelerated two trends that are likely to slow job growth going forward.

One is the automation of jobs. For industries like manufacturing, she’s expecting output to stay the same or increase, but the number of people working will go down because of automation.

Second is the continual move from brick-and-mortar retail to online.

For people considering job hopping, she said they should look for quality jobs, but stay long enough to learn something.

“Don’t look at the next 24 months in making that determination of ‘what kind of job should I get?’ If you’re 25, you’re going to have a 40 year career,” she said. “So pick something that you enjoy and you’re good at, and then figure out what industries need those skills.”