Good sign for economy: More people are quitting jobs

Number of Americans bolting for greener pastures up 12 percent since January

Someone cue Johnny Paycheck, as an improving economy has more Americans finding the gumption -- and employment options - necessary to tell their current boss to take this job and ... well, you know the song.

From an Associated Press report:

More people quit their jobs in the past three months than were laid off - a sharp reversal after 15 straight months in which layoffs exceeded voluntary departures. The trend suggests the job market is finally thawing.

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Some of the quitters are leaving for new jobs. Others have no firm offers. But their newfound confidence about landing work is itself evidence of more hiring and a strengthening economy.

"There is a century's worth of evidence that bears out this view that quits rise and layoffs fall as the job market improves," said Steven Davis, an economist at the University of Chicago.

Dig a bit deeper into the story and it's clear there are caveats - departures are still well below pre-recession levels, for example -- and the trend isn't necessarily being seen across all corners of the American workplace.

And, as those who work in or watch the technology industry know, there are still ample examples of layoffs being more top-of-mind than job hopping. This month alone, HP has announced it will be laying off 9,000 workers within its enterprise services business and Oracle said it would be eliminating an unspecified number of jobs related to its acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

Nevertheless, almost 2 million people left their jobs voluntarily in April, the highest total in more than a year. This could well be a sign of chickens coming home to roost ... mighty tired chickens. More from that AP story:

Studies have shown that worker morale fell during the recession. Productivity rose as companies squeezed more work out of their employees. That points to a reason quits may keep rising: Overworked employees could jump at the chance to switch jobs as new opportunities arise.

"There is going to be a mass exodus of the top performers as the economy starts to turn around," predicts Razor Suleman, a consultant who helps companies retain their best workers.

About 25 percent of companies' top performers said they plan to leave their current job within a year, according to a survey published in the May edition of the Harvard Business Review. By contrast, in 2006, just 10 percent planned to leave their jobs within a year.

(Memo to boss: I'm just reporting the news here; not going anywhere; not even thinking about it ... honestly. Unless, you know, someone goes all Godfather on me, in which case ... nope, staying, really.)

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