U.S. Talent Shortage: What Jobs Are Most at Risk?

Monday, October 18, 2021

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August  2021 alone, leading to a record-breaking 10.9 million jobs open at the end of the month.

The statistics speak for themselves – signaling the “Great Resignation” is a very real challenge employers are continuing to grapple with.

In our latest labor market report, we shed insight on the root causes spurring the massive talent shortage, how industries are navigating the shifting labor market, and how technology coupled with strong programs can help companies find and retain the talent they need.

As part of the report, we also were interested to find out which jobs are at most risk during this time of labor and talent uncertainty. While all Top 35 Job Categories tracked by Workforce Logic showed significant volatility increases in Q2 2021, five specific industries stood out as facing ongoing hyper-challenging talent shortages.

1. Public Safety

Public safety had the highest Q2 employee volatility increase (up 300% over Q1). The trend is indicative of the historic numbers of police officer departures from many of the cities impacted by months of racial justice protests and policing reform efforts. Officers are retiring at accelerated rates, as well as more open to looking at employment opportunities in welcoming geographies and adjacent sectors. Additionally, 66% of Police Chiefs are looking to work in areas with high growth opportunities. The states with the biggest talent supply for public safety are Texas, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, and Ohio.

2. Dining and Hospitality

More than 740,000 people who quit in April worked in the leisure and hospitality industry, which includes jobs in hotels, bars, and restaurants. The pandemic had a lot to do with it: work got too stressful for employees, marked by scant staffing and constant battles with unmasked customers and COVID exposures. Of those staying in the industry, 60% of servers and bartenders and 46% of restaurant managers want to work for places with greater growth opportunities. The states with the biggest talent supply for these workers are California, Florida, Texas, New York, and Pennsylvania.

3. Banking and Finance

Globally, high paid, overworked bankers are quitting because “the lifestyle trade-off just wasn’t worth it,” with the COVID crisis prompting bankers to reassess their lives. In the U.S., workers in the industry cite mental health issues as a top reason to quit, and most aren’t receptive to the top employers calling them to return to the office. Those who remain want to work for companies that offer greater growth opportunities (43%) and a more positive working environment (26%). The states with the biggest talent supply for these workers are California, Florida, Texas, New York, and Illinois.

4. Software Engineering

Those working in the software engineering industry said they are looking to leave because they are not given challenging work, they are getting paid below the market rate, or they work on badly managed teams. These factors contributed to 31% of software engineers looking to leave for organizations that offer high growth opportunities. The states with the biggest talent supply for these workers are California, Washington, New York, Texas, and Massachusetts.

5. Information Technology (IT)

IT workers have grown accustomed to working remotely during the pandemic and will quit if their employers don’t continue to allow them this flexibility. They say working from home (WFH) offers them improved work-life balance, increased productivity, and more. IT specialists are experiencing the second highest talent shortage rate (-0.88) among the jobs most at risk. The states with the biggest talent supply for these workers are California, Florida, Texas, New York, and Massachusetts.

Overcoming Talent Shortages

What can organizations do to survive and thrive despite these massive shifts in the labor market? Stop relying on assumptions when it comes to managing talent and look to data to drive decision making. With data and the right technology partner, employers get real-time insight on talent supply and demand analytics, compensation analysis by role and geography, industry and competitive trends, and company and industry labor movement forecasts – all key components to driving smarter business decisions in this hyper-competitive labor market.

For more information about the current U.S. talent shortage, download the report.

Read U.S. Talent Shortage Part 1

Read U.S. Talent Shortage Part 3


Christy Petrosso (Whitehead), Chief Data Scientist and Talent Economist

Christy Petrosso (Whitehead) is our Chief Data Scientist and Talent Economist, leading the strategy and design of our predictive AI algorithms and machine learning models.  Christy joined our leadership team in October 2019 with the acquisition of ENGAGE Talent. Christy holds a PhD in Economics from Clemson University and has focused her career on employment and labor economics. Her previous experiences include key data science roles with PeopleMatter (acquired by Snag A Job) and Equifax. Christy is a frequent speaker in HR Analytics and machine learning conferences. She is also an active member of the Federal Reserve Roundtable.

More Posts

View all Posts