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Stuck In Your Job? So Are Millions Of Others

A bad day on Wall Street can make one yearn to do something else. (File photo from Nov. 5, 2008.)
Richard Drew
A bad day on Wall Street can make one yearn to do something else. (File photo from Nov. 5, 2008.)

After exploring the notion that there are about 2 million "open" jobs in the U.S., NPR looks into Bloomberg Businessweek's conclusion that "up to 28 million Americans [are] stuck in jobs they would have left in ordinary times."

Bloomberg News reporter Mike Dorning tells NPR's Robert Siegel that the 28 million figure is an extrapolation. As he's written: "since January 2009, an average 1 million fewer Americans per month have quit their jobs than in previous years."

Factor in that there have been 28 months (through April) since then, and you get to the 28 million figure.

Now, don't etch that number in stone and conclude that there are exactly 28 million folks out there who wish they could quit but can't for one reason or another. Maybe more folks are actually enjoying their jobs than in previous years. And since the government has only been tracking the quitting trend since the year 2000, there isn't a lot of historical data to sift through.

But, Dorning says, "there simply aren't that many new jobs to be had. ... Also, even people who are recruiting new hires tell me that people are less willing to leave their jobs. They don't want to take risks."

That makes sense, with the economy still struggling to shake off a recession that officially ended in 2009 and with the hits many people have taken in the value of their homes and investments, lots of folks are anxious.

So, it's logical to think that there are millions of workers who would have told the boss to take this job and ... well ... you know. All in all, it's not a sign of a healthy economy. If times are good, more people are willing to take risks and to go looking for better jobs.

This all makes us wonder:

We'll keep the question open until the end of day Friday. Reminder: It's not a scientific survey; just a discussion-starter.

Update at 5:05 p.m. ET: the interview got "bumped" from today's All Things Considered. We'll keep an eye out for it and update if it airs in coming days.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.