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Reasons for Leaving Last Job, 2011 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 09 November 2011 Download PDF

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Reasons for leaving last job

The number of people leaving their main job in April-June 2011 was 674,000, a drop of 42 per cent on the 1998 peak of 1.17 million. This decline suggests that the UK labour market is less dynamic now than in the past. In general, people are more likely to choose to leave their job voluntarily (for example, by resigning) rather than being made to leave their job involuntarily (for example, because they were made redundant).

In the 2nd quarter of 2011, 674,000 people left their main job, down from a peak of 1.17 million in 1998. In percentage terms, around 2.4 per cent of all workers in the workforce left their main job in 2011, down from 4.5 per cent in 1998.

Of the 674,000 people who left their main job in 2011:

  • 57 per cent, or 382,000 chose to leave voluntarily
  • 43 per cent, or 292,000 were made to leave involuntarily

Rates of people leaving main job on voluntary or involuntary basis, and total rates, April-June each year, 1996-2011, United Kingdom

Rates of people leaving main job on voluntary or involuntary basis, and total rates, April-June each year, 1996-2011, United Kingdom
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Recession period shaded.

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A slowdown in the economy like that experienced in recent years in the UK will impact on the rate of people leaving or changing their job. For example, when job opportunities are limited there are fewer opportunities to move, people are often reluctant to change jobs and some people will become unemployed as businesses shed some of their workforce.

Rise in number leaving their job involuntarily, and fall in those leaving their job voluntarily during recession

Over the fifteen year period between 1996 and 2011, people generally were more likely to leave their job voluntarily than involuntarily. However from the onset of the 2008-09 recession, the percentage of those choosing to leave their job and those being made to leave narrowed considerably. In the 2nd quarter of 2009 (the final quarter of the recession), the number of people leaving their main job on a voluntary basis was equivalent to the number leaving on an involuntary basis, both at 382,000, or 1.4 per cent of the total workforce.

The recent recession had the most impact on the rate of people leaving due to redundancy (an involuntary reason) and the rate of people resigning (a voluntary reason):

  • The rate of people leaving their main job due to redundancy more than doubled, from 0.4 per cent in Q2 2008, to 0.9 per cent in Q2 2009. The increase was largest in construction, manufacturing, and banking and finance.
  • Redundancies also increased more for men than women, reflecting that men are more likely to be working in the sectors most impacted by the recession.
  • The rate of people leaving their main job by resigning fell from 1.0 per cent in Q2 2008 to 0.6 per cent in Q2 2009. The fall was across all industry sectors of the UK economy, with the largest decrease in the manufacturing, and distribution, hotels and restaurants sectors.

Rates of people leaving their main job (total, due to redundancy, and resigned) by industry sectors, April-June 2008 and 2009, United Kingdom

Percentages

  Total Redundancy Resigned
2008 2009 2008 2009 2008 2009
Manufacturing 3.5 3.5 1.0 2.2 1.0 0.3
Construction 2.8 3.6 0.5 2.2 0.5 0.3
Distribution, hotels and restaurants 5.0 4.1 0.7 1.1 2.1 1.3
Transport and communication 3.2 2.2 0.7 1.0 0.7 0.4
Banking and finance 3.2 3.4 0.4 1.5 1.1 0.7
Public admin, education and health 2.2 2.2 0.1 0.3 0.7 0.5
Other services 3.7 2.8 0.5 0.9 1.2 0.5

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Agriculture, forestry and fishing, and energy and water sectors are not shown because sample sizes for these sectors are too small to produce estimates.

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  • The recession had a greater impact on the rate of people leaving their job in the private than in the public sector. The percentage of private sector workers leaving their job voluntarily fell sharply while those leaving involuntarily rose during the recession. In contrast, there was little change in the percentage of public sector workers leaving their main job during the recession, either voluntarily or involuntarily.
  • In the time since the end of the recession, the percentage of public sector workers made to leave their job has doubled, from 0.5 per cent in Q2 2009 to 1.0 per cent in Q2 2011, while the percentage of those in the public sector choosing to leave fell slightly, from 1.1 per cent to 1.0 per cent over the same period. This finding is consistent with recent Government policy in reducing public sector jobs.

Rates of people leaving their main job voluntarily and involuntarily in private and public sectors, April-June each year, 2002-2011, United Kingdom

Rates of people leaving their main job voluntarily and involuntarily in private and public sectors, April-June each year, 2002-2011, United Kingdom
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Recession period shaded.

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Women more likely than men to leave job for family reasons, younger workers more likely than older workers to leave their job

Looking at the most recent data for 2nd quarter of 2011:

  • Men and women cited similar reasons for leaving their main job, with the top two reasons for both men and women being resigned and redundancy.
  • However, women were more likely than men to leave their main job due to family or personal reasons. In Q2 2011, of the women who left their main job, 10.5 per cent cited this reason, compared with 4.2 per cent of men who left their main job.
  • People in younger age groups were more likely than those in older age groups to leave their main job. In Q2 2011, 4.7 per cent of those aged 16 to 24 left their main job, compared with 2.8 per cent of those aged 25 to 34, 1.9 per cent of those aged 35 to 49, and 1.8 per cent of those aged 50 to 64.
  • The reasons cited for leaving differed across age groups. People aged 16 to 24 were more likely than other age groups to leave by resigning or because their temporary job had ended. This reflects that younger people are at an early stage of their careers and therefore tend to change jobs readily, or that they are students taking casual jobs.
  • Those aged 25-34 and 35-49 were more likely than other age groups to leave for family or personal reasons.
  • People aged 50 to 64 were more likely than other groups to leave due to retirement (either early, at or after state pension age). 

Background notes

  1. Analyses are on people aged 16 to 64.

  2. The labour force survey asks respondents whether they have left their main job in the last three months, and if so, the reason why they have left. Respondents are to select from nine reasons: dismissed, made redundant/took voluntary redundancy, temporary job finished, resigned, gave up work for health reasons, took early retirement, retired (at or after state pension age), gave up for family or personal reasons, some other reason. The first three reasons are classified as involuntary whereas the remaining reasons are classified as voluntary. From Q1 2011 onwards, the category “education or training” was added to the list of reasons. In these analyses, this reason was grouped with “leaving for some other reason” for ease of comparison between time periods.

  3. For each quarter, the job separation rate is expressed as a percentage of people how have left a main job within the last three months, over the number of people who have been in employment for three months or more and the number who have left in that quarter.

  4. Data from LFS longitudinal datasets were used to analyse the percentage of workers who have left their job in private and public sectors, and also across industry sectors. The datasets used were 2-quarter longitudinal datasets covering Q1 (January – March) and Q2 (April – June) of each year. For these analyses, people who have left their main job in Q2 were first identified, and the sector they were working in (either public or private, or type of industry) was then determined based on their responses about their main job in Q1.

  5. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

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