Almost 3 million Australians started a new job last year. Here’s why.

By Jim Bright

Why do people leave jobs? The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Job Mobility report sheds some light on what is happening in the careers world.

Did you know that of the 13.8 million people employed as of February 2023, 2.9 million (about 28 per cent) had started their job in the previous 12 months?

A tad over half of those were new to the world of work, or had not worked in the previous year. And just under 10 per cent changed from one job to another in the year. This is the highest in a decade.

Wanting a better job, or even just a change, was the most common reason given for why people looked for new jobs.
Wanting a better job, or even just a change, was the most common reason given for why people looked for new jobs.

By far the most popular reason for the change was a desire to do something different, or find a better job, the ABS stats released at the end of June show. That desire accounts for over a quarter of job changers and is almost twice as prevalent as the next couple of reasons – a temporary job coming to an end, or being retrenched, which was experienced by around 13 per cent of job changers.

Family reasons come next, closely followed by poor work conditions at around 10 per cent each.

Injury or ill health at 5 per cent was more common than retiring. The smallest category among the job changers were the 1 per cent that left to start their own business. So-much for the side hustle becoming the main gig.

Reasons for job changing showed quite distinct patterns for males and females in some areas. Males were 50 per cent more likely to be retrenched than females, about 20 per cent more likely to leave for a change or something better, and over twice as likely to leave to set up their own business. Females were almost three times more likely to leave for family reasons. Females were almost 4 times less likely to have been sacked.

Most people who changed jobs stayed within the same occupational grouping. This most particularly applied to professionals, trades workers and technicians. However, sales personnel and labourers were the only two occupational groups more likely to change into a new occupation entirely.


Is it true that young workers are less loyal and more prone to leave? Yes and no. They still account for the highest proportion of job changers at nearly 15 per cent, compared to fusty 45 to 64 year-olds at just under 6 per cent. However, that represents a decline from the heady days of 1996, when 23 per cent of the youngsters changed jobs.

So what do these statistics show us? They should be a reminder to be very careful not to be taken in by simplistic stereotyping of different groups of workers.

The picture is a lot more complex. I want to know why men are much more likely to be sacked, and what we can do to encourage more female entrepreneurs.

Dr Jim Bright, FAPS owns Bright and Associates, a Career Management Consultancy and is Director of Evidence & Impact at BECOME Education, an ed tech start up. Email to [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @DrJimBright

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