ARGG!! Two thirds of U.S. adults want to quit, 76 percent working in the wrong field

Wikimedia Commons (Click for original)
Wikimedia Commons (Click for original)

There’s an epidemic of stuck in America.  It shows up in the economic data, of course, but more important, it’s really hitting folks’ lives hard. A new survey by Rasmussen College found that more than half of U.S. adults “say they don’t have significant growth opportunities in their current positions.”

Part of the reason: They’re working in the wrong field. How’s this for depressing: Only 39 percent of Americans with an advanced degree say they are doing what they set out to do in their careers. Even more depressing: Among the general population, the number drops to 24 percent.  In other words, only 1 in 4 people are working in their field of dreams.

Sure, the top-line unemployment number has steadily dropped. But workers are still exercising extreme caution in their career moves, which is creating a big problem for younger people. Stagnation — and probably ageism, too — means older employees are holding on to jobs for dear life, creating a lack of upward mobility in many companies and industries.

Beware, HR departments.  All this unhappiness is pent up and will some day bite less-than-generous corporations. Two-thirds of adults said they’d considered quitting.  Pay is cited by half those folks, but lack of advancement opportunities is the second-most common reasons for a desire to quite, the random survey of 2,000 U.S. adults found.

“Having a clear career path from the very beginning is critical so you don’t end up stuck in a job without the right skill set or lacking in advancement opportunities,” said Tamryn Hennessy, vice president career services at Rasmussen College.

I believe Americans feel stuck as part of the hangover from the Great Recession. Here’s a rarely-spoken truth about recessions: corporations always fare better than workers on the way out. They recognize more quickly that business has picked up. And they enjoy higher profits from the leaner workforces they created during times of heavy layoffs. In other words, many employees are still working like their company is fighting for survival, while the company is doing pretty well.  This is obvious from the current disparity between Wall Street (another Dow record this week) and Main Street (continued meh employment).

If you are unhappy at work, and far from your field of dreams, please stop this week and take a moment to make a plan.  Don’t let procrastination, distractions, numbness, the greedy algorithm, or any of those things keep you from being who you are supposed to be.  The book I co-wrote with Hugh Thompson, Getting Unstuck, might help.  Or, try my 30-day email program instead. 

You can read a lot more about the eight reasons people get stuck, for free, at this collection of stories related to the book.


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About Bob Sullivan 1638 Articles
BOB SULLIVAN is a veteran journalist and the author of four books, including the 2008 New York Times Best-Seller, Gotcha Capitalism, and the 2010 New York Times Best Seller, Stop Getting Ripped Off! His latest, The Plateau Effect, was published in 2013, and as a paperback, called Getting Unstuck in 2014. He has won the Society of Professional Journalists prestigious Public Service award, a Peabody award, and The Consumer Federation of America Betty Furness award, and been given Consumer Action’s Consumer Excellence Award.