Great ResignationCompensationReturn to WorkCareersLabor UnionsSuccess Stories

2 in 5 workers say they have enough money to live without a job for at least 6 months, survey finds

May 6, 2022, 12:00 PM UTC

CEOs hoping that sky-high inflation may prevent workers from joining the Great Resignation might be in for some bad news. 

Two in five Americans say they can afford to be unemployed for more than six months, according to a new study

Researchers at BambooHR, a human resource software company, surveyed from February to March more than 2,000 U.S. adults who have been employed or willingly unemployed over the past two years. 

They found that 38% of workers feel the most undervalued they have ever felt during their careers. Of those who have quit, here’s how they’re supporting themselves: 

  • Savings: 56% 
  • Family: 48% 
  • Retirement accounts: 38% 
  • Side jobs: 31% 

Young workers are taking more risks because they can 

A little under half of employed Millennials and Gen Z workers (43%) believe they can financially support themselves for six or more months while being unemployed, BambooHR told Fortune. That’s slightly higher than the average of individuals through all generations, at 41%.

But the pandemic put extra stress on young workers’ finances. Thirty-two percent of Millennials have more credit card debt than savings, according to BambooHR, and 46% of Gen Z workers currently have a smaller emergency reserve than before COVID-19.

Despite their finances, Gen Zers and Millennials have more freedom to quit than older generations because they are less likely to have dependents and additional expenses like home mortgages. They are also more likely to report looking for a new job or thinking of applying for other jobs in the last six months. 

“I think that the earlier in career generations are more apt to make the move because there’s not as much risk tied up to it if you don’t have a big expense line,” explains Anita Grantham, head of HR at BambooHR.

Krystin Kalvøy, 24, a marketing operations coordinator for a real estate technology company Kalvøy, is a case in point. Despite getting advice against making drastic choices before having another job, she quit because she was miserable at work.

“After so many months of just being so unhappy, tears in my eyes every day, just crying from the job that I was at, feeling so underappreciated, and just feeling like this power of management was able to dictate the way that my life was going, I had enough,” Kalvøy explains to Fortune after a TikTok clip she posted about quitting her job without a backup plan went viral.

@krystinkalvoy

don’t continue to put time into things that no longer serve you corporateamerica retail quittingmyjob

♬ original sound – Krystin Kalvøy

.

She says that feeling undervalued was a deciding factor in her job change. Despite finding a job soon after quitting, she was ready to take whatever odd gigs came her way in the meantime. 

“I have chosen to take more risks because I don’t want to just sit still when I know that there could be other potential learning opportunities elsewhere. I don’t want to get into that mode of being too comfortable,” adds Kalvøy.

In Grantham’s view, Gen Z and Millennial workers are telling themselves to take the leap.

“I’m going to run this as long as I can and then I’ll look for stability later,’” she says about what younger workers are thinking. “They have the freedom and autonomy to not have to be garnered by stability in their decision making.”

Gen Z and Millennials are packing their bags and coming home

Additional analysis of the report provided by BambooHR to Fortune, shows that while many unemployed individuals rely on their savings to get by, Gen Zers and Millennials are more dependent than other generations on their families. 

Seventy percent of Millennials said they rely on a family member’s income while 59% of Gen Zers did. That compares to 51% of Gen Xers and 22% of Baby Boomers. 

Many young employees who have sought support from family have done so to save money and possibly help with quitting their jobs. Since the pandemic began, more young adults are living at home or in multi-generational homes than ever.

Kalvøy says she was able to quit partly because she was able to cut expenses while living at home.

“People have had to make a lot of sacrifices, and they have to choose,, do I want to stay unhappy in a job? Or do I want to stay in this job and not be at home? Or do I need to make certain step backs in order to step forward?” 

So far, Kalvøy says her risk has paid off. About her new job, she says “it’s the first time I feel more valued than ever and I didn’t think I would be feeling that for a long time.” 

Kalvøy adds that her goal of paying off her student loans when the required monthly payments restart—they paused during the pandemic—would  be impossible had she been living alone. She has also been able to avoid going deeper into debt.

“Having my parents as my roommates has provided me an opportunity to create a cushion of savings at a faster pace in contrast to living on my own or with other people,” says Kalvøy.

Sign up for the Fortune Features email list so you don’t miss our biggest features, exclusive interviews, and investigations.