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Some Older Workers Switched Jobs During the Pandemic

More money, fulfillment and entrepreneurial opportunities driving career moves

Change spelled out in brown blocks

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En español | ​Among workers 55 and older who’ve recently quit their jobs 56 percent say it was due to the pandemic. But for many, other factors also weighed into the life-changing decision.​

A recent survey of 1,250 Americans who quit their jobs in the past six months found many also desired better pay, more joy or a chance to be their own boss.​

The survey released by Digital.com, a website that aims to help small businesses find the best digital tools, allowed participants to cite more than one reason for leaving their previous position:​

  • 33 percent left for better pay and benefits.​
  • 32 percent wanted to focus on their health.​
  • 31 percent were motivated by the need for more passion about their work.​
  • 29 percent sought an opportunity to work remotely indefinitely.​
  • 27 percent quit to pursue further education and training.​
  • 26 percent wanted to start a business.​

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Dennis Consorte, start-up consultant and small business expert for Digital.com, was surprised that only 26 percent of older workers quit to start their own business. “Older founders tend to be more successful, based on their years of experience,” he noted.​​

Among older workers who said they planned to start their own business, half said they were doing so to be their own boss, 41 percent aimed to build wealth, 35 percent said they were pursuing an idea they’re passionate about, and 32 percent wanted to create jobs in their community.​​

Digital.com’s survey didn’t estimate how many older workers have left their jobs, but a separate survey released by Bankrate in August found about a third of such workers plan to look for a new position in the coming year.​

Patrick Kiger is a contributing writer for AARP. He has written for a wide variety of publications, including the Los Angeles Times Magazine, GQ, Mother Jones, and websites of the Discovery Channel and National Geographic.

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