- The economy slowed in 2023, but it is unclear if we are entering a recession or poised for growth in 2024.
- Job openings exceed hire rates and there is still a labor shortage; however, the market has cooled.
- Regardless, the spirit of the Great Resignation is still very much alive. Due to overwhelming competition for better employment options, the job search has become maddening for job seekers, especially those looking for white-collar “knowledge worker” positions, which are missing from the top in-demand jobs by wage growth this year.
- The top 10 in-demand jobs are seeing wage growth of over 18 percent, and include self-employment options like job coach.
- Wage growth has softened, but pay increases look to remain above historic averages in 2024.
- Positions in healthcare and technology dominate jobs people are wanting to quit the most.
The economy changed in 2023. There were layoffs — particularly in the tech sector — and a softening of the job market, but no recession. Inflation has come down, but interest rates remain high.
The job market is mixed. Quits rates and hiring rates have leveled off. However, although job openings have declined, the job openings to hires ratio is inverted, indicating that businesses are still struggling to find the talent they need. Labor force participation remains below pre-pandemic levels and the unemployment rate remains below 4 percent.
Collectively, this suggests it is still an employee’s market heading into 2024, but the job search experience varies by occupation. Workers everywhere want better employment experiences, so much so that employers are receiving a flood of applications and job seekers face tough competition.
High interest rates could force a recession, increasing layoffs and depressing hiring rates even further. However, given labor shortages, a recession could be short-lived or avoided altogether — especially if interest rates are cut — which could see the economy enter a new period of growth in 2024.
For this report, Payscale analyzed data from our online salary survey to rank the top in-demand jobs in 2023 by fastest growing wages. Most interesting is that one of the top in-demand jobs on this year’s list is job coach, which spotlights frustration in the job market and rising demand for help finding a job, managing career growth, and negotiating salary.
Although voluntary turnover has decreased, people still want to leave their jobs for better opportunities — especially people who are underpaid and/or overworked or who feel they cannot progress at their current organization. According to Payscale’s data, the list of top jobs people are wanting to quit is dominated by positions in healthcare (such as phlebotomists) as well as technology (such as senior product managers). Some blue-collar positions that made the list have low median pay for specialized skills, such as line cooks, forklift operators, and welders/cutters.
The expansion of pay transparency legislation may also be contributing to an increase in job-seeking behavior, especially among people who are in top in-demand jobs or who are underpaid for their position — as people are now easily able to see what they might make elsewhere.
For job seekers, we recommend creating an online salary profile with Payscale to see how your pay stacks up against the market holistically. For employers, we recommend conducting pay analysis using modern compensation management technology. We also offer a free download on the top predictions for HR in 2024.
Top HR predictions for 2024:
- The state of the job market in 2024 will depend on whether high interest rates tip the economy into a recession despite ongoing labor shortages.
- Leading organizations will combat labor shortages by investing in human-centered recruiting and creating fulfilling employment experiences that emphasize work-life fit.
- Pay increases will meet or exceed inflation in 2024 for the first time in years.
- Pay transparency legislation will spread and expand to include new requirements related to pay communications and career growth.
- Skills valuation, training, and career pathing will become more central to talent strategy.
- Exploration and adoption of AI tools and skills will be necessary to remain relevant in 2024.
The state of the job market going into 2024
To contextualize the state of the overall labor market, we analyzed data sourced from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). We also looked at unemployment, labor force participation, and the consumer price index (inflation) from the BLS.
The labor economy definitely slowed in 2023, but it is difficult to say whether we are poised on the edge of a recession or about to enter another wave of economic growth. Job openings have decreased but are still inverted over hires. Layoffs are still below historical averages and so is unemployment.
While business leaders and banks have indicated a desire for a recession to return power to employers and lower investment costs, there are still more open jobs than there are people to take them. In addition, workforce participation is expected to continue to decline as more people retire and birth rates plunge.
More notably, the shift in values that took place during the pandemic is not transient. Although the economy has softened and the Great Resignation has ended, its spirit is still very much alive. Workers have languished under high inflation and stressful working conditions and are unwilling to make concessions on fair pay and well-being.
Blue-collar workers are forming unions and going on strike to achieve those demands if that’s what it takes. However, white-collar professionals looking for jobs are having difficulty due to the high volume of job seekers.
The job search experience is impacted by economic uncertainty. Workers feel the strain of increased prices as well as the stress of leaner workforces. When the economy slowed, many workers were caught in layoffs, especially knowledge workers in the technology industry. Those still employed feel the continued threat of layoffs. These stressors are driving more people to enter the job search. But job openings are declining and hiring has slowed, leading to frenzied competition among job seekers that is the reverse of what employers experienced when trying to hire two years ago.
What led to this job market and how has it affected wages?
In the wake of COVID-19, employers laid off more than 20 million people, skyrocketing unemployment to 14.7 percent and stressing workers who remained employed in brutally difficult circumstances.
But these layoffs were not a natural response to economic conditions in 2020, and the economy did not go into a real recession. Consumer spending merely shifted to digital experiences and, in some cases, exploded into new business ventures, resulting in a frenzied effort to hire talent to meet new forms of demand within two months of layoffs. Job openings ballooned and quits surged as fed-up employees sought better employment experiences elsewhere — a phenomenon labeled ‘the Great Resignation.’
During the next few years, labor shortages and supply chain shortages combined to cause a wage-price spiral, or possibly a profits-price spiral, as many workers did not see their wages increase. In the summer of 2022, inflation hit 9.1 percent in the United States. The Federal Reserve took aggressive action, raising interest rates in late 2022 and 2023 to throttle inflation. This has had the desired effect. Today, inflation is down to just over 3 percent, although still short of the 2 percent target.
Correspondingly, wage growth has come down, especially in professional sectors like Technology, Finance & Insurance, and Agencies & Consultancies, which overpaid for new hires to meet demand during the Great Resignation. That said, pay increases look to remain strong in 2024. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects much lower inflation for the U.S. (2.8 percent), while Payscale’s 2024 salary budget survey projects pay increases to be 3.8 percent. Should these predictions hold true, it would be the first time wage growth has surpassed inflation since 2020. However, pay increases will vary by industry and business performance.
It should be noted that although job openings have come down, they remain well above pre-pandemic averages, and the labor force participation rate — which had been climbing before the pandemic — still hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic averages. This signals the continuation of a labor supply shortage, which means that workers ought to have bargaining power — at least in sectors where hiring remains challenging.
Why is today’s job search so maddening?
If it’s an employee’s market, why is getting a job so difficult, especially for knowledge workers in white-collar occupations? Job candidates are reportedly applying to hundreds of jobs and not getting interviews despite being highly qualified. Meanwhile, hiring managers are receiving hundreds of applications within a day or two of posting a new job opening. Supply and demand dictates that employers have choices. The sheer number of applications that employers are receiving allows them to seek candidates that meet more of the skills and experience in the job description than they might in a less precarious economy.
Job interviews have also become longer and more complex. According to a report released by the Josh Bersin Company and AMS, a workforce solutions firm, the amount of time it takes to hire a new employee reached an all-time high of 44 days in early 2023, despite there being no evidence that longer interview cycles result in better hires.
The current situation is not precisely new, but it has gotten worse. The ratio of job openings to hires has been inverted for about a decade. It has been above zero, meaning the job openings rate has been greater than the hires rate. According to this measure, we have theoretically been in an employee’s market since 2014. During COVID-19, this flipped as organizations fired millions, but it has since climbed to new heights. Although the job market has softened in 2023, it is nowhere close to “normal”.
Why are jobs not being filled?
Jobs are not being filled, and it’s not just some industries. When we compare job openings to hires, we see that every industry is struggling. Those experiencing the most trouble attracting qualified candidates are Finance & Insurance and Healthcare, but nearly every sector is struggling with the exception of retail. If this is the case, why is the job search so discouraging? There are multiple explanations for this phenomenon, which are described in detail below.
Hiring managers are being too picky.
One explanation for the job-openings-to-hires gap is that organizations have become exceedingly picky. Employers allege that they are not able to find people with the right skills for the jobs they have open. But while open jobs do tend to receive some unqualified “hopefuls” who are not a good fit, it is difficult to believe that no one who has applied is qualified to do the job — especially if there are hundreds or even thousands of applications within weeks of a job being advertised, which has become the norm.
Theoretically, a slew of eager applicants should make hiring easy, but it can also have a negative impact. Too many choices can cause employers to feel paralyzed and pressured to hire only “perfect” candidates — ‘magical unicorns’ that come with all the prerequisite skills — rather than good candidates in whom they can invest and train. At the same time, many hiring managers struggle to identify the skills they really need, which they may not realize until they get to the interview stage of the hiring process. While skills-based hiring can help solve labor shortages, many organizations are unprepared for this revolution.
Outdated or ineffective hiring processes combined with an overwhelming number of applications may make employers hesitate to pull the trigger. Just sorting through the resumes can be a challenge, even with AI technology. In fact, AI can be contributing to the problem at larger organizations that receive thousands of applications per job posting, as it can miss qualified applicants. Simultaneously, job candidates may be hurting their chances by relying too heavily on AI tools to tailor their resumes to the job description in a manner that stretches the truth or makes their resume too suspiciously generic.
Employers should also be warned about being overly picky. It is not recommended to hire candidates with 100 percent of the skills listed in the job advertisement, as this would mean that the candidate has already mastered that job and has no room to grow in the role. Employers who only want to hire people with 100 percent mastery of the position may need to be prepared to pay them on the upper end of the pay scale. The other risk is that these hires might become bored quickly, leading employers to lose them to other opportunities with more growth potential. Instead, hiring managers should be giving more weight to the passion and work-life fit of the person applying for the position and how experience and skills training can elevate candidates with only some or most of the preferred qualifications.
Some employers are also loath to consider people who are unemployed. These organizations prefer “passive” candidates, even though already-employed prospects are more difficult to convince to interview and take a new position. This prejudice was amplified recently in the “open to work” banner controversy in which a former Google recruiter told CNBC that job candidates who declare they are “open to work” using LinkedIn’s badge look “desperate,” which sparked a heated online debate.
Prejudice against people open to work is unfair to qualified workers who have been laid off for no fault of their own or have had life experiences that required taking a break from the workforce, neither of which have anything to do with their abilities or performance. This mentality is also a contributing factor to the gender pay gap. Although the “open to work is desperate” perspective is being challenged, this mentality could be having an impact on participation in the labor market.
Another side effect of a “too-picky” hiring process to consider is that top talent is liable to withdraw from consideration when the application or interviewing experience is frustrating or insulting — especially passive candidates. This is especially true if the interview process requires unpaid work and/or the candidate gets the impression that no one is going to make it through the rounds.
Jobs are undesirable to candidates.
Organizations may be struggling to hire because they are posting jobs that are undesirable to candidates in some way. Here are just a few examples:
Pay ranges aren’t included or are too wide.
Job seekers are increasingly coming to expect salary ranges to be posted in job ads. The expansion of pay transparency legislation was one of the biggest shakeups in 2023. Although pay transparency laws don’t apply to every state — yet — that doesn’t really matter from the perspective of job applicants. Enough locations require pay ranges to be posted in job ads now that job-seeking behavior has changed. If the pay range isn’t posted in the job description, fewer candidates are likely to apply, and those that do may not be the talent you want the most. In addition, if the pay range for your job is out of sync with similar postings without explanation or justification, the position is less likely to receive applicants.
Even if the position includes a salary, if the salary is too wide or the compensation strategy isn’t clear, it can confuse and discourage applicants. Since the passing of pay transparency legislation, some job ads have included salary ranges that span hundreds of thousands of dollars. This ambiguity can dissuade people from applying as it conveys that the organization doesn’t really know who they need for the role being advertised and may even raise suspicion in the legitimacy of the posting itself.
Showing a reasonable salary range conveys that the organization understands the job and has mature processes when it comes to compensation management and total rewards. Given how fast the market has been changing in recent years, employers need to conduct market analysis on an annual basis (at minimum), especially for in-demand jobs where wages have been growing the fastest. (See below for the top in-demand jobs of 2023.)
The work environment or benefits are off-putting.
The problem could also be workplace environment or benefits offered (or not offered). According to research by Buffer, 98 percent of employees want to work remote, at least some of the time. That means candidates may not be applying for jobs that have to be on site, or they may be rejecting (or being rejected for) positions where they do not have the flexibility to work from home. For example, it may not be a coincidence that the finance & insurance industry, which has been making the most noise about enforcing return-to-office mandates, also has the widest job openings to hire rate right now.
Payscale’s State of Remote Work Report further elucidates the importance of workplace flexibility.
Company culture is also an incredibly important aspect of the work environment. People have had enough of toxic, exploitative workplaces. Today, there are many avenues for researching company culture in advance of applying for a job, and job candidates are actively being advised to look up organizations online and review their reputation before accepting an offer.
An inability to hire can also reveal that employers are out of touch with what workers want in terms of benefits, such as PTO, commitment to diversity and inclusion, or acknowledgment of the importance of mental health and overall well-being in relation to work, which all changed during the pandemic and have not lessened in importance to workers.
Generation Z is turned off by your practices.
Employers could also be missing what is required to attract the next generation of workers. To start, new graduates are at a severe disadvantage in the current economic climate as many organizations are unwilling to take risks on untrained talent. Many organizations are not even posting “true” entry-level jobs, requiring years of experience even for jobs that are labeled as entry-level. Many also do not offer skills training and instead want to hire people who come with the skills they need. In a job market where it’s difficult for even seasoned professionals to be considered, getting a job feels hopeless for recent college graduates. Many of them have stopped trying.
It is also common for “entry-level” jobs to pay little more than minimum wage, with the expectation that new graduates need to gain experience and ‘pay their dues’ to earn more. However, generation Z has different values from the generations that preceded them, especially when it comes to work and pay. Generation Z workers may not apply to jobs that pay entry-level salaries, especially if those salaries are a pittance compared to the median for a job with similar duties and responsibilities that is not marked as entry level. Entry-level jobs may be especially off-putting if pay increase processes and career growth opportunities are opaque. It may be simply impossible for Generation Z to live on these salaries given inflation, housing prices, and college debts.
Job descriptions are unreasonable or unclear.
The job description itself could also be the issue. Job descriptions that are not getting many applications, or the wrong quality of applicants, may be confusing job seekers. They could be describing multiple jobs that one hire cannot possibly satisfy, or the description may be poorly written or so vague that candidates can’t understand the duties. Savvy candidates will hesitate to apply to jobs with descriptions that sound impossible, vague, or badly written, as they set up unreasonable expectations and a low chance for success in the position.
AI could be contributing to this situation. While AI tools can help employers craft job descriptions faster, overreliance on generative AI to create job descriptions can be detrimental. AI can write a general job description that is a decent first draft based on other descriptions with similar titles, but it won’t be able to capture the specific responsibilities and skills needed for your organization.
Finally, candidates are also looking for what the job can do for them. Does your job description speak to the team they will work with, who they will report to, and what support, training, or education they can expect to receive? Candidates may be hesitant to apply for a job that asks for everything but provides nothing, especially if the salary and benefits are also unclear.
Need help with job descriptions? Check out Payscale’s job management solutions.
Employers aren’t investing enough in recruiting.
Another possible contributor to the gap between open jobs and hires is that organizations are underinvesting in the recruiting process — particularly in skilled recruiters — and possibly over-relying on artificial intelligence to help sort through high volumes of applications.
As mentioned, AI can be a double-edged sword. Artificial intelligence can help job seekers tailor resumes and write cover letters. It can also help recruiters sort and filter applications. But when everyone is using the same tools, applications are at risk of looking identical and may not reflect the true job or the true experience of the candidate.
It is important to remember that AI does not possess human discernment and can filter out great candidates based on a lack of exact keyword matches, leading it to miss the larger context of the job and the needs of the people on the team. AI also cannot manage expectations, facilitate relationships, or provide a warm and inclusive interview experience. It cannot advocate for candidates the way recruiters can, which can be an important part of boosting confidence to “close the deal.”
While AI may get better at this in the future, there will be bumps in the near-term, which will hopefully drive a resurgence of investment in human-centered recruiting experiences.
Regardless of whether or not AI is overly used, it is important for employers to provide validating candidate experiences. In the present job market, too many job candidates are receiving cold and untimely communications or no communications at all, even if they progressed to the interview stage of the hiring process. This can impact an employer brand for years to come.
Is a recession coming in 2024?
There are some economic indicators that signal a recession may be imminent, but there are also many reasons to doubt that a recession is coming. On one hand, high interest rates make long-term investments unprofitable, which can stagnate economic growth and lead to a recession. Layoffs have reverberated in certain sectors. However, layoff rates are still below historical averages.
If a recession does hit in 2024, layoffs could increase, unemployment could rise, and job openings could plummet. This would strangle hirings and slow the job market further.
However, this is by no means guaranteed.
It is possible that a recession is not coming. It may be that the economic slowdown and sluggish job market we have been experiencing is as bad as it is going to get. If things do get worse and a recession does happen in 2024, it is unlikely to resemble the drastic recessions of recent history and it may be short-lived. After all, only two quarters of depressed growth is required to signify that a recession has taken place. To combat a recession, interest rates could be cut, which would make it possible for people to receive financing for large purchases and lead to the beginning of a new season of investment and economic growth. That could stimulate the job market and provide relief to frenzied job seekers.
For this reason, organizations should be careful and not make drastic cuts to their workforce or lower pay for current employees. Instead, employers should be thinking about how to position themselves strategically for the coming ‘war for talent,’ such as by having a modern approach to compensation management, rewards and recognition, skills training, and career pathing.
Managing wages in an uncertain economy
One of the more challenging aspects of 2021 and 2022 was soaring inflation. Inflation has thankfully come down in 2023, but that may not mean much to employees who are still feeling the burden of higher prices and interest rates — especially as wage growth has also softened.
While wages increased overall in 2021 and 2022, they did not increase at the same rate as inflation. In effect, this means that workers can afford less today than they could before the pandemic. The gap between nominal wages and real wages adjusted for inflation has been widening since the Great Recession of 2008. This is a major source of anxiety in the workforce and a leading cause of wealth inequality and civil unrest.
However, this situation looks like it could improve in 2024. Employers are budgeting for pay increases of around 3.8 percent according to Payscale’s Salary Budget Survey. This is higher than the 3 percent average in the years preceding COVID-19 and could meet or exceed inflation in 2024. In other words, organizations that are in a financial position to reward employees with base pay increases at or above inflation will have a good story to tell their workforces about fair pay.
Changing your salary-increase budget? Let us know; Payscale’s 2024 Compensation Best Practices Survey is open for participation.
For organizations struggling with how to navigate their salary budget for 2024 given the volatile nature of the present economy, Payscale is pleased to offer guidance. Tune in for a recorded session from Payscale’s annual event, Compference23, featuring Nicole Yum, Global HR Leader for Yum! Brands and Kristen Borrego, Director of HR Consulting Services for the Employer’s Council.
Top in-demand jobs by fastest-growing wages
In 2023, we are seeing wages for the most in-demand jobs grow by double digits — from 18–24 percent — according to Payscale’s online salary survey. The top five jobs with fastest-growing wages include assistant managers of customer service, hairstylists, master plumbers, automotive body repairers, and job coaches.
Most of the positions on this list represent jobs that are highly flexible and where professionals may be self-employed people who are working for themselves rather than a corporation. The appeal of self-employment has been on the rise since COVID-19 and the Great Resignation, when many employees quit stressful jobs to run their own businesses.
Note about salary data: Payscale’s list of fastest-growing jobs by wages shows salaries at the national median. Median pay for these positions will vary significantly depending on geographic and firm characteristics, with some survey participants entering very high earnings and others entering very low earnings. Generally, larger companies and coastal cities have higher median pay, which would be represented more in traditional salary surveys.
For job seekers, what the pay range is and where you fall on it can be more important than the median — especially if the offered salary is adjusted for distinguishing factors like company size, industry, location, skills, and experience. For this reason, it’s important to ask for the organization’s pay range for the position in question and to bring several data points to the negotiation table.
Filling out a salary profile with Payscale with as much detailed information as possible will provide you with a contrasting data point to reference during salary negotiation to ensure that your offer is fair.
Profiles: the top 10 in-demand jobs in 2023 by wage growth
Below is information about the top 10 jobs on the list of hottest jobs by fastest-growing wages for 2023. Definitions for these occupations align with the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), a free online database that contains hundreds of job definitions to help students, job seekers, businesses, and workforce development professionals understand today’s world of work in the United States.
To get a more complete understanding of the salary range for your position, fill out an online salary profile with Payscale.
#1 Assistant manager, customer service
Assistant managers in customer service centers help lead teams of customer service representatives who interact with customers. These teams provide basic or scripted information in response to routine inquiries about products and services and handle and resolve general complaints.
Wages are likely to be growing fast for this position because customer service centers can be stressful work environments, often leading people to seek better positions with higher incomes as soon as they gain the prerequisite skills.
Note: Customer service positions are abundant in the retail sector. According to data from the BLS, retail has the smallest gap between hires and quits and a negative gap between job openings and hires, indicating high turnover and a revolving door of new starts.
Hairstylists provide beauty services such as cutting, coloring, and styling hair. Hairstylists also made the top 10 in-demand jobs list in 2021.
During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when people couldn’t get their hair cut, many hairstylists were laid off and some abandoned the profession. However, that meant that in subsequent years, there has been a shortage of hairstylists.
In addition, hair salons have continued to be impacted by supply shortages from the pandemic, which is still ravaging other parts of the world. This contributes to increased prices and a struggle with wages to keep costs reasonable to retain customers.
#3 Master plumber
Plumbers assemble, install, alter, and repair pipelines or pipe systems that carry water, steam, air, or other liquids or gases. Master plumbers have experience and skill that exceeds those of apprentice plumbers and journeyman plumbers.
According to Mr. Rooter, demand for plumbers has been exceptionally high in 2023. Fewer homeowners today have the DIY skills to manage plumbing leaks themselves, meaning they require the assistance of experienced plumbers. Home improvement and maintenance spending has also been on the rise in recent years, although it is expected to ease in the back half of 2023 and early 2024.
#4 Automotive body repairer
Automotive body repairers fix and refinish automotive vehicle bodies and straighten vehicle frames.
There is a shortage of automotive technicians due to an aging population, low pay, and a rising number of older cars. People are keeping their vehicles for longer, and older cars have become especially popular in the last year or two as rising interest rates have made new car purchases less affordable.
In addition, interest in postsecondary programs in the automotive sector has dropped, likely due to less competitive salaries compared to other lines of work.
#5 Job coach
A job coach helps people determine what they want out of a job, position themselves for a specific career path, prepare for interviews, and negotiate offers.
Job coach is a relatively new position that has exploded in popularity recently due to social media and the expanding challenges of seeking employment and career advancement during the Great Resignation and the age of AI.
Career coaches adapt traditional coaching practices to help job seekers understand their strengths, adjust their mindset, identify the right opportunities, network, and ultimately achieve their work- and life-related goals.
#6 Audio/visual technician
Audio/visual technicians set up, maintain, and dismantle audio and video equipment such as microphones, sound speakers, connecting wires and cables, sound and mixing boards, video cameras, video monitors and servers, and related electronic equipment for live or recorded events, including concerts, meetings, conventions, presentations, podcasts, news conferences, and sporting events.
Over the past few years, AV companies have been desperately short of people since social distancing during the pandemic temporarily eradicated jobs in the events business. In addition, AV tech jobs require a lot of commuting and dealing with frustrating situations and tech issues for relatively low pay. AV tech experts may also have founded their own businesses during the pandemic to advise the surge of people who took up podcasting and video blogging while social distancing.
An animator is an artist who creates graphics for animated films, television shows, or video games.
The expansion of television programming to support the streaming wars has resulted in more animated programs than ever before. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough animators to go around. Training and development opportunities for animators are limited and good animators get promoted quickly into other roles.
In addition, the animation industry was impacted by the WGA strikes. While projects were on pause, some animators may have had to find other work, leaving a gap in talent when projects resumed.
#8 Fitness coach
Fitness coaches instruct groups or individuals in exercise activities for personal fitness.
In recent years, wellness has been top of mind as people have become more conscious about managing both their mental and physical health. This leads to higher demand for fitness coaches who can help people lose the weight they may have gained during COVID-19 or embark on exercise programs to improve their energy, positivity, and overall health.
According to Future Market Insights, the global personal fitness trainer market is expected to be valued at $65.5 billion by 2033, an increase of 4.6 percent from today.
Roofers cover roofs with shingles, slate, asphalt, aluminum, wood, or related materials. Roofers may also spray roofs, sidings, and walls with material to bind, seal, insulate, or soundproof sections of structures.
Climate change is creating higher demand for roof repairs due to excess wind, snow, and other types of inclement weather. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a massive labor shortage in this industry as supply chains were disrupted and housing projects had to be put on hold.
According to John Kenney of Cotney Consulting Group, “Roofing right now could put a half a million more people to work.” One of the biggest challenges affecting roofing is low retention rates, as loyalty programs are nonexistent or poorly communicated and roofers are prone to leave one company for another to earn a few dollars per hour more in pay.
#10 General manager
General managers are responsible for improving efficiency and increasing profits while overseeing operations, including hiring staff, managing budgets, and running promotions to attract more customers. General manager is a critical job requiring a high degree of knowledge and skill.
The talent shortage around general managers stretches back to the 1980s when there was a shift from generalist skills training to specialization in specific functional areas, resulting in a decline of people who have been exposed to end-to-end enterprise management. In addition, gaining the knowledge to become a general manager requires a long tenure with the same organization to receive specialized training on the nuances of the enterprise. Unfortunately, remaining with the same organization for the years necessary to become a general manager has fallen out of favor in recent decades as employers cut back on differentiating pay and benefits.
The COVID-19 layoffs and the Great Resignation made this situation even more perilous, with the result that general managers were a hot commodity in 2023.
Jobs people are seeking to quit the most
Payscale also ranks the top jobs employees are quitting according to our online salary survey. Employees could be leaving these positions for the same position at another organization or for a completely different position. Regardless, these jobs represent occupations where employees are stressed, underchallenged, burned out, or unhappy with their pay and benefits compared to what they think they can get elsewhere.
A primary contributing factor to employee satisfaction is work-life fit. This term is replacing ‘work-life balance’ because it more accurately reflects the way people are seeking jobs that map to their desired lifestyle and will leave positions that do not support their needs.
This is particularly worth noting since the jobs on this list include several positions in healthcare as well as positions in IT that may have been performed remotely during the pandemic but are now being forced to be done in an office again. Even among those who may still work remotely, the expectation to be available 24/7 could lead to the increasing prevalence of burnout.
However, what these jobs likely have the most in common is better pay or better conditions elsewhere. While a possible recession on the horizon may make workers hesitate to leave an established position for an unknown future in another organization, the right motivations can inspire talent to jump. The expansion of pay transparency legislation may reveal to workers in these positions what they could earn elsewhere for the same position, which could provide this inspiration.
Topping the list are senior product managers, who make decent salaries at the median but who also always have upward opportunity if they have the skills to help organizations improve their technology products. Other technology positions on the list include cybersecurity analyst, IT program manager, software development engineer in test (SDET), and senior data analyst. In addition to seeking higher salaries, technologists also tend to look for positions where they can solve interesting problems and work with cutting-edge technology. At the moment, artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the hottest technologies in the world.
Also heading the list are phlebotomist, patient care technician, registered nurse (emergency room), patient service representative, registered nurse (critical care), and patient care coordinator. These are all healthcare positions, with many requiring on-site work in hospitals where patient interactions can be more stressful. In addition, the healthcare industry is always trying to reduce costs, which can affect salaries and impact job satisfaction.
The remaining positions on this list include blue-collar jobs with specialized skills, such as line cook, welder/cutter, and forklift operator. Despite requiring a niche skill set and long hours of physical labor, these jobs offer lower pay, which might be a reason for workers to seek new opportunities in the same line of work or in something different. Retail sales associate also makes the list and is another lower-paying position where a higher salary can be achieved by changing jobs.
Pay analysis along with pay transparency and pay communications can help employers address challenges with attrition in positions prone to high turnover. Organizations need to analyze how individuals are compensated for their work and how that compensation compares to the external market as well as internally (pay equity). Employers interested in calculating fair pay and tracking the impact of compensation on attrition should check out Payscale’s whitepaper on the basics of pay analysis.
About our research
Payscale provides a list of hot jobs that have seen the highest growth in wages and a list of top jobs people quit the most. Data is sourced from our employee-reported online salary survey from 2022 to 2023. Payscale also provides labor market insights from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Payscale analyzed 774,307 U.S. respondents who completed a salary profile between 11/1/2022 and 10/31/2023 to rank the prevailing 2023 hot jobs list. The final list of rankings represents 3,545 respondents across 15 job titles. Payscale also provides other annual trends from this data, including a top list of jobs people quit the most, nominal vs. real wage trends from the Payscale Index, and BLS labor market metrics.
Payscale also leveraged data from respondents who answered the following research question:
In the next six months, I plan on actively seeking a new job(s) outside of my current company: Yes / No
BLS Labor Turnover: data sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), October 2022 release
Total cash compensation (TCC): TCC combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, and other forms of cash earnings as applicable. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or value of other non-cash benefits (e.g., healthcare).
Median pay: The median pay is the national median (50th percentile) annual total cash compensation. Half the people doing the job earn more than the median while half earn less.
YOY wage growth: the percent increase in median pay for a given job title, collected from Payscale’s employee-reported online salary survey
% seeking a new job: the percentage of respondents with a given job title who intend to seek a new job in the next six months, collected from Payscale’s employee-reported online salary survey
Nominal wage growth: wage growth not adjusted for inflation
Real wage growth: wage growth adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Hire rate: the percentage of newly hired employees among the employed workforce [BLS JOLTS Data]
Job openings rate: the percentage of job openings among all filled and unfilled positions [BLS JOLTS data]
Quits rate: the percentage of employees who voluntarily left their jobs among the employed workforce [BLS JOLTS data]
Layoffs rate: the percentage of employees who were laid off among the employed workforce [BLS JOLTS data]
As the industry leader in compensation management, Payscale is on a mission to help job seekers, employees, and businesses get pay right and to make sustainable fair pay a reality. Empowering more than 50% of the Fortune 500 in 198 countries, Payscale provides a combination of diverse and dynamic data sources, experienced compensation services, and scalable software to enable organizations such as Angel City Football Club, Target, Gainsight, and eBay to make fair and appropriate pay decisions. Pay is powerful. To learn more, visit www.payscale.com.
Top predictions for HR and compensation management in 2024
In 2024, HR leaders and compensation professionals will face an uncertain economy, increasing tension over the health of the job market, and considerable change spurred by advancements in technology. In this guide, we disclose the top predictions and recommendations for HR from Payscale thought leaders across areas of expertise that include people leadership, compensation management, new legislation, and artificial intelligence (AI).