The Great Resignation

Oregonians share their personal experiences with “The Great Resignation” and workplace changes, including changing jobs and remote work.

From July 8–16, 2022, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a statewide survey to determine whether and how the COVID-19 pandemic changed Oregonian’s work lives. A description of the methodology used for the research is provided below.

The question numbers in this document correspond with the survey questionnaire (Q14–24). Due to rounding, the percentages reported below may not add to 100% or compare exactly to the percentages for the same question in the annotated questionnaire or tabs.

First Off, How Many People Have Worked Over the Last Two Years?

About two out of every three Oregonians over the age of 18 worked for pay over the last two years (65%) (Q14). 

Men are more likely than women to have worked at some point during the past two years by a small, but statistically significant, margin (68% to 61%). 

Most People Experienced a Job-Related Change in Their Life

The pandemic brought seismic changes for many Oregon workers—but for others, there were no changes at all. A plurality of workers says nothing has changed in the past two years (38%) (Q15). 

Men are more likely than women to say nothing has changed in their workplace as a result of the pandemic (44% compared to 31%). Workers with higher annual incomes have experienced fewer pandemic-related changes than those making less than $50,000 per year (39%-42% compared to 33% of those who make less than $50,000).

Has Covid-19 Created More Remote Work Environments?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, one in five Oregon workers has stopped going to an office every day and has instead become remote or hybrid workers (20%), but the benefits of working from home were not shared across all groups (Q15).

34% of six-figure workers switched to a home office situation, compared with 13–18% of workers at lower income levels (less than $100K per year).  Those with college degrees were much more likely to have moved work to their homes than those with less formal education (34% compared to 16% of those with just some college and 8% of those with a high school education or less).

Unemployment Benefits

One in four workers with household incomes of $50,000 or less had to go on unemployment at some point between 2020 and today (26%) (Q15). 

The lowest income workers are the most likely to have reported filing for unemployment, but between 9–15% of Oregon workers in all other income groups say they filed, too. One in five women (21%) accessed unemployment benefits sometime during the past two years, a bit more than men (15%). 

Do Oregonians Prefer a Remote Work Environment?

Today, workers are a bit more likely to have the option of working remotely, at least sometimes, than they are to report to an office or facility every day (40%, 37%) (Q20). 

Workers who work remotely at least sometimes are split fairly evenly: 22% work exclusively from home and 18% work in a hybrid model. High school graduates and those with some college education are most likely to report to work each day in person (43–44%), while just 24% of college grads do the same. 

Twice as many Oregonians would like the option of working from home or an office than currently have the option of a hybrid work environment (41%, 18%) (Q21, Q20). 

While residents would prefer to work exclusively from home more than coming in to work each day (26% to 19%), they are even more likely to prefer a hybrid environment (41%). Half of college graduates want the option of choosing whether to go to an office or stay home (54% compared to 33–37% for other educational levels). 

One in Four Oregonians Joined “The Great Resignation”

One in four Oregon workers joined The Great Resignation by quitting a job (28%) (Q16). 

Some of these Oregon workers decided to become self-employed (12%), became stay-at-home parents (5%), or chose to retire early (4%) (Q15). 

Self-employment—perhaps via the gig economy—was an especially notable choice for lower-income Oregonians (18% compared to 5-9% for those who make more than $50,000 a year). 

Oregonians quit their jobs because they felt disrespected and underpaid (43%, 41%) (Q17).

Workers say disrespect is worse than low pay, and Oregonians are more likely to quit over it than Americans broadly, per a Pew survey from February 2022[1] (43% to 35%). Oregonians are also more likely than other Americans to quit over low pay1 (41%, 37%). 

Oregonians are less likely than the national average to have quit their job due to dissatisfaction with benefits, with 15% saying they quit because benefits like health insurance and paid time off weren’t good, compared to 23% of Americans1.

“Our town hasn’t been able to fill positions for a pharmacist, anesthesiologist, teachers, and domestic violence shelter executive director due to lack of housing (housing turned into tourist rentals).”

Woman, age 30–44, Curry County, white

“Prejudices against people with prior felony convictions prevents so many from finding work, not enough access to affordable childcare, irregular shifts that interfere with family life, lack of transportation.”

Woman, age 65–74, Wallowa County, white

Oregonians Who Lost Their Jobs

Additionally, 21% of workers lost their job during the pandemic (Q18). 

Nearly one-third of workers with a high school education lost a job (30%), double the number of college grads who lost a job (15%). Four times as many low-income residents lost their jobs compared to those who make $100,000 or more a year (31%, 7%). 

Four in ten employees lost their jobs due to a lack of work, or the business folding entirely (43%). Notably, three in ten workers say their job loss stemmed from work-related physical or mental health issues (30%) (Q19). 

Lower-wage workers with household incomes of $50,000 per year or less were among the most likely to say that their employer went out of business (25%, compared to 11–14% for other income groups). 

“It’s being falsely represented that employers are having a hard time finding willing workers. I have applied to a lot of jobs [since] I lost my job, and it was hard to get even one interview when I have plenty of work history. They’re turning away so many applicants without a second look at us.”

Woman, age 18-29, Washington County, Native American, American Indian or Alaska Native and white

Women Favor Working From Home

Nearly half of Oregon residents—working or not—say that the option to work from home would determine whether they accepted a job (44%) (Q22). This is especially true for women (49%), more so than men (38%). There is no difference between different income levels as to whether a work-from-home option would determine their acceptance. 

“The Great Resignation” as a Product of High Cost of Living

Oregonians say The Great Resignation and the low-wage worker shortage are the product of a high cost of living, not people living off government benefits (60% to 34%) (Q23). 

“If the pay matches the expense of living, more people would be looking for jobs.”

Woman, age 18-29, Multnomah County, Black or African American

“Partly due to high cost of living but also due to family obligations (caretaking), stressful working conditions of many low-wage jobs, and thoughts of entitlement.”

Man, age 65-74, Benton County, Asian

“Benefits and wages aren’t keeping up with inflation and supply chain issues.”

Man, age 30-44, Multnomah County, Asian

“If employers were willing to raise wages to a living level, people would jump at the chance to get those jobs. Since they have a bit of a cushion now, people looking for work can afford to be slightly pickier rather than desperate.”

Woman, age 30-44, Deschutes County, white

“I’m one of them. I wish I knew where these people are getting all this money to live off of. [Maybe] Mitch McConnell can tell me. Our only income is my husband’s $728.00 per month.”

Woman, age 55–64, Marion County, Asian and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander

“I believe people have realized they deserve better as well.”

Woman, age 30–44, Coos County, white

“In addition to young people not wanting to work in low wage jobs, I believe quite a few believe that it is beneath their perceived status to work in a minimum wage job.”

Woman, age 65–74, Multnomah County, white

“People want a free ride off the backs of others. Those on fixed income should get stimulus but don’t.”

Woman, age 45–54, Deschutes County, white

Demographic Trends

Identifying what unites us, understanding what divides us.

Reported below are statistically significant subgroup differences between BIPOC and white Oregonians, urban and rural Oregonians, and age groups.  Many of these differences are not major and are presented to inform public education and communications initiatives.  

OVBC surveys currently use aggregated data to analyze the opinions of BIPOC residents in comparison to the opinions of residents who identify as white and not another race. BIPOC residents are not a monolith; the grouping represents a wide diversity of races and ethnicities. The findings included in this memo should not be construed such that all people of color are believed to share the same opinions. Disaggregated race data will be provided when sample sizes permit reliability.

  • BIPOC Oregonians are more likely than white residents to have been employed in the past two years (72% to 63%) (Q14). 
    • BIPOC workers were equally likely to experience changes (or not) in their workplace over the last two years. For example, one in five workers in each demographic group shifted to remote or hybrid work (19% and 20%) (Q15). 
  • Given the option, BIPOC Oregonians have a stronger preference for an all-at-home work model than white Oregonians (31%, 24%) (Q21). 
    • These findings mirror those from some companies’ internal workplace surveys[2]. Several publications have addressed the issue as well, investigating the link between discrimination and microaggressions in the workplace and the desire to return in person. 

  • In rural Oregon, fewer people have worked within the past two years (55%), due in large part to a higher percentage of senior residents in rural areas (Q14). Of those who are still in the workforce, rural residents are less likely to have experienced changes over the past two years.
    • 43% of rural workers say nothing in their job has changed as a result of the pandemic, compared to 28% of urban workers (Q15).
    • Rural workers are about as likely to have quit a job since 2020 as urban and suburban workers (25–31%) (Q16). 
  • Rural workers were less likely to shift to working remotely, whether in the same job or in a new one (Q15). 
    • The shift to remote work affected one in four residents in urban areas, but just one in ten in rural parts of Oregon (26% to 10%) (Q15). 
    • Urban residents are also more likely than rural residents to have started a new job in order to work remotely, although not by a significant margin (12% urban, 7% rural) (Q15).
    • Nearly one in three urban residents work from home 100% of the time (30%), compared to just 18% of rural workers (Q20).
  • Rural workers are about as likely to have quit a job since 2020 as urban and suburban workers (25–31%) (Q16). 
    • Unlike their suburban and rural-changing-to-suburban counterparts, the most common reason urban and rural residents quit their jobs is low pay (urban: 42%; rural: 38%), followed by the top statewide reason: feeling disrespected as work (urban: 39%; rural: 37%) (Q17).
  • A majority of Oregonians from all types of communities believe that a skyrocketing cost of living is more to blame for a shortage of workers than a glut of government benefits keeping people at home. In rural areas, a scant majority of residents take that view (Q23). 
    • Exactly 50% of Oregonians in rural areas say people simply can’t afford low-wage work these days, a view shared by 72% of urban residents. 

  • Workers are, of course, more likely to be people aged 18–64, and labor participation declines steadily with age. For those 18–29, about 83% were employed in the last two years; for those 65–74, 40% were employed. Fewer than one in five seniors over the age of 75 worked for pay in the past two years (19%). 
  • Half of workers under the age of 30 quit a job in the past two years, along with more than one-quarter of workers 30–44 (48%, 29%) (Q16). 
    • Between 0–21% of other age groups quit a job in the past two years, with numbers falling steadily as age groups rise. 
    • Low pay is an especially significant factor for young Oregonians just entering the workforce. For those under 30, more than half quit in favor of more financially sustaining opportunities (53%) (Q17). 
    • Additionally, more than one in four workers under 45 lost a job over the same period (27-28%) (Q18).
  • Oregonians under 30 have strong opinions on the labor shortage. Two-thirds say it is more accurate to blame the high cost of living, including rising rents (66%) (Q23). 
    • While some might believe these young residents are slacking off and simply not working hard enough, it is worth noting this same demographic group quit their jobs in search of higher income (53%) and demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit by becoming self-employed (16%) (Q17, Q15).  
  • About two out of every three Oregonians over the age of 18 worked for pay over the last two years (65%) (Q14). 
    • Workers are, of course, more likely to be people aged 18–64, and labor participation declines steadily with age. For those 18–29, about 83% were employed in the last two years; for those 65–74, 40% were employed. Fewer than one in five seniors over the age of 75 worked for pay in the past two years (19%). 

Methodology: The online survey consisted of 1,572 Oregon residents ages 18+ and took approximately 15 minutes to complete. Respondents were contacted by using professionally maintained online panels. In gathering responses, a variety of quality control measures were employed, including questionnaire pre-testing, validation, and real-time monitoring of responses. To ensure a representative sample, demographic quotas were set, and data weighted by area of the state, gender, age, and education.

Statement of LimitationsBased on a 95% confidence interval, this survey’s margin of error for the full sample ±2.47%. Due to rounding or multiple answer questions, response percentages may not add up to 100%.

[1] Survey conducted February 7-13, 2022: Pew Research; n=965; W103-Great-Resignation-topline.pdf (

[2] A new era of workplace inclusion: moving from retrofit to redesign – Future Forum