Is It Still a Good Time To Switch Jobs?

Job-hopping may come with a raise, but it’s getting riskier as the economy sours

Sending. a resume to various employers

Key Takeaways

  • Jobs were plentiful last year and finding new work resulted in higher pay for workers.
  • But the U.S. economy is teetering on the edge of a possible recession, making some workers hesitant to look for another job. 
  • Experts say you may still have an opportunity for better pay and possible job security if you’re looking for trade or service positions. But whether you should switch jobs is really different in each case.

At the beginning of 2022, Grace Spencer was working as a digital content coordinator for a children’s craft company in New Jersey. She had been there for a year and a half, and planned to stay there—but her loyalty was not being rewarded. 

“I had to fight for any type of compensation, any type of award, any type of raise that I got there,” Spencer said. 

After changing jobs four times in the past year—two layoffs and quitting twice—she recently started a job where she is making $20,000 more, as a digital manager at Taft Communications, a public relations firm in Lawrence, New Jersey.

“If I learned anything from having two layoffs and continually finding work, it’s that I can find a job within two weeks,” she said. “I don’t want to sound like I’m not humble about that, but that’s the type of market that we’re in.”

Spencer may be an extreme case, but she’s far from alone. Jobs have been plentiful and switching employers has often paid off handsomely in the past year. People who switched jobs saw their pay increase 7.7% on average, compared to just 5.5% for those who stayed put, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

Indeed, official measures of the job market paint a rosy picture for workers—the unemployment rate was just 3.5% in December, tied with a 50-year low. However, major high-tech companies including Google, Microsoft, and Amazon have all laid off thousands of workers in the last month, and growing fears of an impending recession could mean more widespread job losses as companies hunker down for a lean period.

The contradictory signals leave workers with a dilemma: Is it better to switch jobs to look for better pay, or to stick with the secure job you have in hopes of surviving potential layoffs?

The best strategy varies by person and industry, according to experts. After all, switching jobs during an economic downturn can backfire. 


Data from employer review website Glassdoor shows that mentions of “layoffs” in employee reviews of workplaces rose 11% in January, and are up 149% over the year—the highest since July 2020. In the tech industry, layoff mentions jumped 21% over the month and have more than quadrupled since last year. 

“You could be putting yourself at risk for a ‘last one in, first one out’ scenario,” Andy Kalmon, CEO of benefits management firm Benny, said in an email. “This is certainly a great time to network and see what's out there on the job market, but I would proceed with caution if your current job is secure.” 

Whether the time is still ripe for job hunting largely depends on where you work, according to Aaron Terrazas, chief economist at Glassdoor. While layoffs are hitting some sectors of the economy, hiring is still going strong in others—which partly explains the mixed signals in the data.

“In 2023, we are on track to have a two-track labor market with much, much softer hiring conditions for skilled knowledge workers, but still very tight conditions for frontline service and trades workers,” Terrazas said.

Gregory Pontrelli, president of HR consultancy Lausanne Business Solutions, said in an email there is a big contrast in how his clients are approaching hiring, depending on what sector they’re in. Companies in tech and finance are laying off 10% to 15% of their workforces, while those in manufacturing are offering sign-on bonuses, flex schedules, and more pay to attract applicants.

There’s additional variation within those broad categories, Terrazas said. In tech, for example, those laid off by big-name companies may be able to find work—albeit with less pay—at smaller firms. These companies still have open positions because they have been unable to compete for talent against tech giants in the last few years. 

“Don't count yourself out just because some big names are making reductions,” Kat Sabatini, CEO of Tuesday Resume, said in an email. “These companies hired massively during the pandemic and are ‘righting the ship’—some would say it's an overdue correction from the past few years of growth.”

Given the opportunities that still exist, it might still be worthwhile to look for a new position, especially if you’re unhappy with your current job, said Andrew Lokenauth, a career expert and adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco School of Management. 


There have been nearly two jobs for each unemployed worker in recent months—an unusual imbalance, since for most of the past 20 years, workers have outnumbered jobs. That’s given workers an upper hand in job hunting and salary negotiations, but the tide may be turning as the economy slows.

In addition to staying or switching, there’s a third option: none of the above. Vanessa Steil, a Long Island resident, recently started her own business after quitting her job doing social media and public relations for a nonprofit group. Her new job gives her more flexibility to be a caregiver for her 94-year-old grandmother, and she, like many other freelancers and consultants, thinks she could get new opportunities as companies lay off full-time workers.

Steil said she’s seen many of her friends take that option, too. 

“If they were in the full-time world, if they couldn't get those raises or promotions, they then just said, ‘I'm going to do something for myself,’” she said.

Nevertheless, if you’re content with your current role, it’s sensible to stay put, given the changing tides in the job market. 

“If you're currently in a job that you're happy with and that offers stability and security, it may be wise to hold on to it,” Lokenauth said in an email. “The potential recession may make it more difficult to find a new job, and it's always better to have a job than to be unemployed.”

Even Spencer, the 2022 four-time job switcher, would think twice about doing it again.

“Given the current view of the job market? I would be fairly reluctant,” she said. 

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. "Wage Growth Tracker."

  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Employment Situation Summary."

  3. Bureau of Labor Statistics via Federal Reserve Economic Data. "Job Openings: Total Nonfarm / Unemployment Level."

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