Office workers
Early starts, long working days and unpaid overtime are prevalent in the UK, says the TUC

The number of Britons leaving their main job has almost halved over the last 13 years, suggesting that the labour market is less dynamic than it has been in the past.

The latest research, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that 674,000 people left their main job in the second quarter of 2011, down 42 per cent on the 1998 peak of 1.17 million.

Of those who left in April-June 2011, 57 per cent chose to leave voluntarily (e.g. resigning) and 43 per cent were made to leave involuntarily (e.g. being made redundant).

The recent recession had the biggest impact on the rate of people leaving their job due to redundancy and the rate of people resigning. It also had a greater impact on the rate of people leaving their job in the private sector than in the public sector. The percentage of private sector workers leaving their job voluntarily fell sharply (from 3.2 per cent in April-June 2004 to 1.7 per cent in 2009), while those leaving involuntarily rose during the recession (from 1.1 per cent in 2004 to 1.8 per cent in 2009).

The reasons for leaving a job differed across age and gender with 10.5 per cent of women citing 'family' or 'personal reasons' compared with only 4.2 per cent of men.

ONS statistician Jamie Jenkins said since 1998 the UK has seen a decline in the number of people leaving their job and this could be linked to changes in the labour market, with the emphasis moving from manufacturing to service based roles.

"The private sector took the biggest hit in terms of job losses during the recent recession. But what we're starting to see now, in the public sector, is an increase in people leaving their jobs from 2010 onwards," he told IBTimes.

Mr Jenkins also noted that people are generally less likely to leave their job in the face of a recession or during an economically unstable time.

However, people aged between 25 and 34 and between 35 and 49 were more likely than other age groups to leave their job for family or personal reasons. Overall, people in the younger age brackets showed the highest likelihood of leaving their main job.

Managing director of FreshMinds Talent James Callander said these figures released by ONS confirmed their company's research that almost 90 per cent of graduates leave their first job within three years.

"Graduate employers more than ever need to think of ways to retain the best talent and think of graduates' career progression beyond the first couple of years. These figures also serve as a reminder to students to make sure they complete work experience whilst studying so that they are certain of the sector and type of job they really want to take."

FreshMinds Talent welcomed the fact that of the 674,000 people who left their main job in 2011, 57 per cent chose to leave voluntarily on their own terms.

"This is definitely an improvement on 2009 when the number of people leaving their main job on a voluntary basis was equivalent to the number leaving on an involuntary basis, both at 382,000 or 50/50. Although this is a step in the right direction, 2012 looks set to be another challenging year for the industry," Mr Callander said.