Recession Fears May Bring an End to the Great Resignation, Achieve Survey Finds

— Americans are anxious about the economy and have limited savings to withstand a recession, layoff or other financial emergency

— Despite a grim outlook on the economy, most workers don’t think their employers will have layoffs

— Few workers plan on quitting their jobs, although hybrid workers are more apt to resign than those working 100% remote or in-person

December 16, 2022

SAN MATEO, Calif., Dec. 16, 2022 — With few Americans financially prepared to withstand a layoff or other emergency, most workers plan to hunker down at their current jobs — a sign that the Great Resignation phenomenon that began during the pandemic may end in 2023, according to a new study by Achieve, the leader in digital personal finance.

The 2023 Financial Fit Check is the latest survey from the Achieve Center for Consumer Insights and reveals considerable trepidation about the economy, employment and personal financial security. Despite dour attitudes about macroeconomic conditions, 74% of respondents said they do not believe their employer intends to lay off workers in the next year.

“Many Americans feel the economy is in bad shape, yet turn a blind eye toward the potential impacts,” said Achieve Co-Founder and Co-CEO Andrew Housser. “This may be preventing consumers from taking the steps necessary to prepare their finances in the event that they do experience a loss or reduction in employment or income. It’s not too late to take steps to shore up finances and prepare for the unexpected, but the time is now.”

Meanwhile, after nearly two years of marked increases in workers resigning in droves to pursue new employment — a trend dubbed the Great Resignation — 73% of workers in Achieve’s survey say they have no plans to leave their current jobs.

“Workers who are anxious about the economy feel that it’s safer to stay in their current jobs,” said Housser. “This is especially true among workers in the Baby Boomer generation who are increasingly nearing retirement age and prefer the stability of their existing jobs.”

Work environment affects decision to accept buyouts

In response to a hypothetical scenario of an employer offering buyouts as an alternative to layoffs, about 42% said they would decline the offer altogether. More than 4 in 10 (43%) said they would only accept a buyout that included six months or more of severance pay.

Employees who work in a hybrid environment were more likely to want to voluntarily leave their jobs than those who work full time either remotely or in-person. If offered a severance package to resign, 71% of those working in a hybrid environment said they would take it. Only 53% of those who work fully remotely said they would, and 56% of those who work entirely in-person.

The study also found that 42% of consumers say they are financially unprepared if they were laid off. Just about a third (32%) said they expect to receive severance pay of one month or less; 21% did not know if they would receive anything if they were laid off.

Negative outlook on U.S. economy, positive outlook on personal finances

Despite displaying a positive outlook on their household finances, the majority of Americans are unprepared to withstand a potential recession and accompanying disruption in the labor market.

“After a year marked by record inflation and financial market upheaval, consumers are struggling to navigate economic uncertainty,” said Housser. “From continued interest rate hikes to the ongoing strains of rising costs, supply chain shortfalls and the end of pandemic stimulus and forbearance programs, consumers should take steps to prepare for what could continue to be a tumultuous 2023.”

Achieve's 2023 Financial Fit Check report notes a distinct discrepancy between consumers’ outlooks on the national economy and their own finances. Almost three-quarters (73%) of Americans said they felt poor or very poor about U.S. economic conditions, with close to one-third of both Gen Xers and Baby Boomers saying they felt current economic conditions are very poor.

Less than 6% of Gen Zers and Millennials felt economic conditions are very good, three times as many as Baby Boomers. The negative sentiment was consistent across all types of wage earners, and among both homeowners and renters.

In marked contrast, consumers were generally positive about their household’s finances, with 52% saying they felt good or very good about their current financial security. “This optimism, however, may not be based on a strong foundation,” says Housser. “Signs indicate that Americans need to lean in on planning and preparation regardless of their feelings of security.”

Living paycheck to paycheck, with precarious emergency savings

A startling 66% of respondents said they live paycheck to paycheck. Just over half of respondents (51%) have less than $1,000 in an emergency savings fund, including 28% who said they have no emergency savings at all.

  • 25% of Baby Boomers have no emergency savings.

  • 33% of Gen Zers have no emergency savings.

  • 40% of hourly workers had less than $500 in emergency savings, compared to just 20% of salaried workers.

When asked how they would cover an unexpected expense, or disruption to their employment and income, respondents said they would decrease spending. For example, 61% said they would cut back on dining out; 49% on entertainment; and 42% on vacations. However, of concern were those who would cut back on essential expenses, including debt payments.

  • Groceries: 31%

  • Savings: 25%

  • Credit card payments: 14%

  • Healthcare: 9%

  • Retirement: 8%

The data and findings in the study are based on an online survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers ages 18 to 65, including a statistically significant sample of Generation Z adults. The data is representative of Census Bureau benchmarks of the U.S. population for age, gender, race and ethnicity.

About the Achieve Center for Consumer Insights

The Achieve Center for Consumer Insights is an ongoing initiative that leverages Achieve’s team of digital personal finance experts to provide a view into the state of consumer finances. In addition to sharing insights gleaned from Achieve’s proprietary data and analytics, the Achieve Center for Consumer Insights publishes in-depth research, bespoke data and thoughtful commentary in support of Achieve’s mission of helping everyday people get on, and stay on, the path to a better financial future.

About Achieve

Achieve is the leader in digital personal finance. Our solutions help everyday people get on, and stay on, the path to a better financial future, with innovative technology and personalized support. By leveraging proprietary data and analytics, our solutions are tailored for each step of a consumer's financial journey and include personal loans, home loans, help with debt and financial tools and education. Achieve is headquartered in San Mateo, California and has nearly 3,000 dedicated employees across the country with hubs in California, Arizona, Texas and Florida and has regularly been recognized as a Best Place to Work.

Achieve and its affiliates are subsidiaries of Freedom Financial Network Funding, LLC, including, LLC d/b/a (NMLS ID #138464) Equal Housing Lender; Freedom Financial Asset Management, LLC d/b/a Achieve Personal Loans (NMLS ID #227977); Freedom Resolution (NMLS ID #1248929); and Lendage, LLC d/b/a Achieve Loans (NMLS ID #1810501), Equal Housing Lender.

Household budgets are stretched to the max and beleaguered consumers have grown skittish of the direction of the economy. This study conducted by Achieve, the leader in digital personal finance, found that after a year marked by record inflation and financial market upheaval, many households are poorly equipped to withstand a potential recession and accompanying disruption in the labor market.

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Erica Bigley

Vice President, Corporate Communications

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Austin Kilgore

Director, Corporate Communications

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