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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work-Life Balance

Economic Uncertainty Isn’t Stopping Workers From Eyeing New Jobs

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Bailey Zelena; MoMo Productions/Getty Images

More than three years after the COVID-19 pandemic upended American work life, employees may be responding to the recent economic uncertainty with a shrug. Most U.S. workers agree that the job market isn’t as employee-friendly as it was a year ago—according to The Muse’s 2023 user survey—but they’re not going to let it affect their job search plans.

Amidst tech layoffs, bank runs, record-low unemployment, and record-high inflation, 63% of U.S. workers think that employees have less power today than they did a year ago. And the same percentage of respondents said they believe hiring has slowed in the last 12 months.

But all the same, workers aren’t looking to hole up in their current jobs and ride out the economic storm. Despite the turmoil, they’re hoping to make positive changes in their careers.

The Muse’s 2023 user survey found that:

  • 75% of respondents are planning to look for a new job in the next 12 months (up from 65% in 2022)
  • 63% said that economic turmoil won’t impact their plans to look for a new job
  • Older workers (Generation X and millennials) were more likely than younger workers (Generation Z) to say that the economy won’t affect their job searches

And the doom and gloom news headlines about a possible recession also aren’t causing workers to compromise on what they want in a new job or what they’ll put up with from their existing employer. Of course, compensation is in the conversation, but work-life balance is actually the top factor for employees looking for a new job this year—with 70% of respondents saying that it was one of the most important aspects of a new job vs. 67% who said the same about compensation.

Work-life balance was the most important across all racial and gender groups surveyed. It was also the most important factor for most generations—only Baby Boomers ranked compensation first. Overall, job security and company leadership were the least likely to be important factors when deciding on a new job.

Employees are also not willing to deal with toxic workplaces or a lack of flexibility/changing policies around remote work. In fact, these are the two most likely reasons for workers to leave their jobs.

Our survey also found that:

  • Hispanic and white respondents ranked compensation as the second most important factor in finding a new job after work-life balance
  • Black and Asian respondents ranked learning and growth opportunities as the second most important factor—with compensation coming in third for both groups
  • 76% of women cited work-life balance as an important factor in finding a new job, compared to 65% of men
  • Gen Z respondents were much more likely to leave their jobs over the possibility of future layoffs than any other generation
  • Millennials were most likely to cite increasingly toxic workplace culture as the reason they’re planning to leave their jobs.
  • When looking for a new role, employees said that job descriptions (67%) and testimonials from verified employees (58%) were most useful for determining if a job and company are right for them.

One trend is clear among our survey respondents: Workers aren’t going to let fear about the economy make them complacent. They might feel like they have less power, but they still want work-life balance and a whole lot more. And if their current employer isn’t cutting it, they’re ready to look for one that will.

If you’d like to see more results, you can download The Muse’s 2023 user survey white paper.