A cement mixer truck is reflected on a window of window advertising retail space for rent at a residential and commercial building under construction at the Essex Crossing development on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022. Credit: Mary Altaffer / AP

The ongoing labor shortage is giving employees unhappy in their current job more leverage to find better opportunities with higher pay, a recent survey found.

A small but rising number of people in Maine and the U.S. are switching jobs and being rewarded for it. On average nationwide, they are getting 8 percent higher wages, more than the typical 4.6 percent they would get if they stayed put, according to a ResumeBuilder.com survey of 1,000 workers nationally.

Only a handful of people answered the survey in Maine, but at least two in management positions at large companies saw incomes double. They are extreme examples, but they show the leverage that some are exerting on employers during a widespread labor shortage.

Most employees nationally cited bad management as the top reason for a change, and half said they didn’t get a raise to compensate for inflation. Some 80 percent of respondents nationally said they could negotiate higher pay at a new job, and about 70 percent are considering job hopping again.

Those numbers aren’t surprising, said Ed McKersie, president of recruiting company ProSearch in Portland. He has seen more people asking about jobs in the past six months. Bad management is a typical reason people cited as a reason to look for a new position, along with pandemic-driven job burnout that has workers seeking a fresh start.

“Compensation isn’t the driving factor,” he said. “People feel underappreciated and see a lack of fairness in the workplace. People want to be proud of who they work for.”

There also are more desirable jobs available now, with some positions opening up because of early retirements taken during the pandemic, McKersie said. Other job-seekers may not have had a raise for several years because the pandemic hampered business and they see better opportunities elsewhere.

“There’s pent-up desire to look around and see if there’s anything better out there,” he said.

Maine ranked 29th among U.S. states in the percentage of people who resigned from their jobs last month, at 3.3 percent, which is higher than the 2.73 percent a year ago, a WalletHub study released Friday found. Georgia had the highest rate at 4.8 percent.

Some 18,000 Mainers quit their jobs in July 2022, according to data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Maine’s quit rate has remained relatively flat over the past two years. Nationally, it has edged up over the past year to a record level.

Both the national quit rate and hires rate are at historically high levels, Ryan Nunn, assistant vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, said in a statement. But the high quit rate is a good sign that the labor market is dynamic and people are shifting to jobs where they are more productive.

“What we have today — as of early [summer] 2022 — is a tight labor market where workers are more empowered to leave their jobs and find better ones,” he said. “This can lead to large improvements in wages and job conditions for those workers.”

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Lori Valigra

Lori Valigra, senior reporter for economy and business, holds an M.S. in journalism from Boston University. She was a Knight journalism fellow at M.I.T. and has extensive international reporting experience...