Are you planning to look for a new job in the next 12 months?

If the answer is yes, you will apparently have lots of company.

A new survey finds most people in the workforce expect to be searching for new employment opportunities in the coming year.

The Bankrate survey finds 55% of those already employed or looking for work expect to be searching for a new position, including 77% of young adults ages 18 to 24, and 63% of millennials, ages 25-40.

A majority (56%) indicate work flexibility is an important reason why, while 53% say they would like a job with higher pay.

Other reasons given to look for greener pastures include a desire for greater job security (47%), more paid vacation time (35%) and a more inclusive work culture (24%).

Carl Van Horn, the director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, said as the pandemic labor shortage continues this has become a time of reflection for many workers.

“People are thinking differently about work and family and healthcare and their own safety, and so it’s not surprising to me what seems to be a bit of an uptick in people thinking about reassessing,” he said.

Van Horn said in a normal economy with low unemployment, employers tend to have the upper hand, but as we continue to emerge from the COVID health crisis the balance of power has shifted somewhat to favor the in-demand employee, who may be taking care of their kids or relatives.

He said they may be thinking “why should I take that risk, or why should I pay for child care, elder care if I’m not getting more money to make up the difference.”

He noted while job-seekers may want higher wages, better work environments, more time off and other options if they don’t have a certain degree of education or training, they may wind up disappointed.

“Those people in many cases are still in a difficult situation, where they may want these things but in order to get them they’re probably going to have to acquire more skills and or experience,” he said

On the flip side, he said when individuals do have a specific skill-set and are in demand they will be able to ask for and receive higher salaries and more perks.

Van Horn pointed out now is an ideal time for Garden State workers to improve their skills.

“While you’re working you can be going to Community College, and in New Jersey now, you can go to Community College for free as long as you earn somewhat less than the median wage,” he said.

He said another option is for people to take advantage of New Jersey’s recently announced Return and Earn program, where the state will pay bonus money for workers to start a job, and up to $10,000 to the employer to help train that new worker.

“You don’t really have to choose between work and education-training, you may actually get both, you know if you’re smart you can do both of those at the same time,” said Van Horn.

He noted many high skilled white-collar employees have not been impacted by the pandemic in the same way other small business, front-line workers have, because “they kept working, they just shifted where they were working, to their homes.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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