According to June data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate was 11.1%, and 17.8 million people were unemployed.

May data on separations reveals that total separations decreased to 4.1 million, or 3.1%. Quits rose by 190,000 to 2.1 million. However, this stat is interesting because in May 2019, the BLS reported that 3.4 million people quit.

A pandemic changes everything

Does this mean that there may be people who hate their jobs, but right now, they’re scared to leave? Tim Sackett, HR pro and president of HRU Technical Resources in Lansing, Michigan, certainly believes that’s what happening.

“Yes, 1000% — welcome to the real world,” Sackett says. “The last decade was not real, it was high-growth, ultra-low unemployment, it was the opposite of a recession.” And job hopping was actually trendy among many employees. In fact, 64% of respondents in a Robert Half survey thought changing roles every few years was beneficial. “You hated your job, you left, and had a new one in 13 seconds — sometimes you left even when you didn't hate it, just because everyone's doing it,” Sackett explains.

But what a difference a coronavirus can make. Employees are now thinking long and hard about jumping ship, and for good reason. Many of them are just trying to hold on to their current positions. “Quite frankly, you should be scared to lose your job right now,” Sackett says. “You should be working harder than ever, doing whatever it takes to add value to your organization and yourself.”

Job hopping has lost its appeal, and Sackett explains that it’s a consequence of bad economic times. “Does that suck? Yes. With great times come bad times, and not everyone is hard-wired to thrive in both.”

Should you stay or should you go?

The pandemic changed almost everything. While employees may be grateful to have a job, it may not change how they feel about that job. According to Reneé Zung, vice president at Keystone Partners, during your career, there’s always going to be a job that you hate. And for some people, this may happen more than once. “The question you should be asking yourself is why do you want to leave?”

Zung says some employees feel stagnant in their careers, while others struggle to set boundaries when working from home during COVID-19, so they’re working longer hours. “Also, some employees no longer enjoy the work, or they may have issues with their colleagues — or it could be another reason.”

And of course, the desire to earn more money is always a popular reason for leaving a job.

“Before you quit your job, you need to realize that looking for a job takes time, effort, and confidence,” Zung says. “Also, there is no guarantee that you will be happier at your new job or that you will not be part of a layoff.” She recommends making the decision based on facts, and not emotion or fear. “As you embark on looking for a new role, you will need to research market trends for your industry and skill set,” she says. “This might be the perfect time to look if you have the in-demand skills, experience, and work in a growing industry.”

And here’s something that may work in your favor. “Believe it or not, according to the BLS, it is taking less time to find a new job in 2020 (May 2020 – 9.9 weeks) than it did in 2019 (May 2019 – 24.8 weeks) and definitely less time than in 2008 during the recession,” Zung says.

If you decide to proceed, she recommends that you start updating your resume and LinkedIn profile.

“The next step in your job search process is to start networking: this is a perfect time to join groups on LinkedIn, look for virtual networking opportunities for your industry, and reach out to your established network, including friends, community or volunteer groups, and alumni associations.” As you begin to lay the groundwork, Zung says the next opportunity might knock on your door.

6 in one hand, ½ dozen in the other

But again, you need to carefully weigh your options and the reason(s) you want to leave. “If you are miserable and your job is affecting every aspect of your life, it is time to look for a job sooner than later or even quit without a job,” Zung says. “Your health, both physically and mentally, is more important than a job.” However, she advises you to be professional and give notice to your employer.

However, Sackett takes a more cautious approach. “I would always advise people to keep the job you have that's paying the bills and grind it out until you have your next job — especially during difficult times,” he says. “Do you know what sucks worse than being in a really crappy job? Not having a job at all and having bill collectors calling you.”

And this may be one of the factors that separates younger workforce generations from their older peers. In study after study, older generations of workers freely admit that they hate their jobs while acknowledging that they need those jobs to pay the bills. On the other hand, a significant percentage of workers in younger generations have different expectations. Research reveals that they’re more likely to want the right culture, a team spirit, more freedom and flexibility, alignment with the company’s corporate social responsibility initiatives, etc.

“The reality is, most jobs suck in good times and bad times,” Sackett says.” It's not the job, it's you. Suck it up, find joy in other parts of your life,” he advises. “Go to work. Get paid. Breathe. Life will get better.”