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Should You Quit With a Recession Looming?

We’re in a booming job market, with an unexpectedly high number of jobs (372,000) having been added in June. Yet most economists agree that circumstances are ripe for a potential recession. Some workers who don’t remember the economic times of 2008 might be wondering what job hunting will be like, and whether or not it’s wise to make quit during a recession.

Even in light of the “Great Resignation,” the current bullish job economy is not sustainable. If the tide begins to turn, how might the fallout affect workers who are considering making a career move?

What Happens to Jobs in a Recession

In the economic recovery phase following the initial waves of Covid, jobs have been readily available for those seeking work. The unemployment rate has dropped as low as 3.6 percent, while compensation has increased and employers have bent over backwards to attract and maintain talent. It may not feel quite like boom times (thanks, inflation), but workers are indeed enjoying a moment.

A recession, on the other hand, tends to prompt instinctive belt-tightening around many industries. In 2008, for instance, companies and workers faced hiring freezes and layoffs. The unemployment rate ballooned, ranging from 5-10 percent. It’s not unreasonable to presume that a recession in 2022 or 2023 could lead to similar outcomes.

Preparing for a Recession

Although economists’ predictions of a recession looming range from 30-50 percent, workers would do well to prepare as if a recession is likely. This leads to the question at hand: Should an employee quit their job with a recession looming? The answer isn’t a simple one, but here are a few takeaways that can help:

  • There’s an old adage that has some value here: It’s easier to get a job when you have a job. Employers are looking for established employees who are willing and able to go with the flow as industries and the economy change. Equally beneficial: during periods of high inflation, which can precede a recession, there’s opportunity to generate competition for your services amongst employees. That results in higher pay.
  • More than ever, focus on producing quality work. If layoffs do become necessary, companies will prioritize holding on to the more proactive and productive members of their staff.
  • Evaluate job opportunities with longevity in mind. Until now, workers knew that if a particular opportunity didn’t pan out, several more would likely be there for the picking. In a recession, that’s less likely to be the case. A position with better security or long-term prospects may be more valuable during a recession than another job that is more fulfilling or that pays slightly more.
  • Situations may present themselves where quitting a job is a necessity during poor market conditions. If a company offers attractive severance packages in exchange for voluntary resignation, it becomes easier to capitalize with emergency savings in hand. Even better, one could turn to contract work and a talent cloud like PeopleCaddie. That allows these people to collect severance in addition to a contractor’s salary. With PeopleCaddie, when contractors work at least 30 hours a week, they gain access to our benefits package which includes health insurance. 
  • While a recession may slow full-time hiring, it may open up opportunities on the contingent labor side. Examine how you can leverage the benefits of contract work to secure opportunities with companies engaged in full-time hiring freezes. 

Should You Quit During a Recession?

A move or career change might seem like a good idea now, but as the possibility of a recession draws nearer, job hopping could be a risky choice for those who depend on a steady, reliable income. Job numbers are expected to decrease in the coming months, and the reward for those who sit tight in the interim might be remaining gainfully employed when companies start cinching those belts.

Of course, what comes at a premium during any recession is stability. Full-time work is binary. A layoff reduces income to zero. Contract work can provide more security during times of economic upheaval because a “40-hour work week” could be allocated in pieces to different companies. 

Lose one of those jobs and you haven’t lost your entire income. Essentially, contract workers hedge their income by diversifying risk across a number of different companies. 

Interested in learning how you can do so? Join our talent cloud to see the opportunities available to you. 

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