Stay or Go: Americans Share Hopes and Fears About 2023 Job Market

Sara Korolevich
February 15, 2023
8 min read

With economic uncertainty growing, American workers share their feelings about the state of the current job market, the strenuous process of finding new work, the stress of the interview process, the importance of pay transparency, and other related feelings in a challenging job market environment paired with unsettled economic conditions.

Historically, a tight labor market refers to a situation where there are more job openings than unemployed workers to fill them. This creates competition among employers to attract and retain top talent, leading to higher wages and better benefits. The tight labor market of the past few years has been driven by a strong economy and low unemployment, but the current economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic and other factors like inflation, has led to a slowdown in hiring and an increase in layoffs, especially in certain sectors such as technology and finance.

Despite the current economic uncertainty, companies can't afford to assume that workers will stay put just because of the fear of job loss, especially as the job market showed great resilience by adding 223,000 in December of 2022.

It’s in a company’s best interest to try to remain competitive by offering attractive compensation packages and providing opportunities for career growth and development. This can include offering flexible paid time off, training and development programs, and other perks and benefits.

The current tight labor market is also leading to increased discussion about inflation pushing salaries even higher. This is especially true in industries where there is a shortage of skilled labor, such as technology and healthcare. Employers in these industries may have to offer higher salaries and benefit packages to attract and retain top talent, which can put pressure on the rest of the market to raise wages as well. Companies that can’t afford to increase salaries may consider worker satisfaction and engagement strategies to keep top talent, including offering flexible and remote work arrangements.

As we move further into 2023, many questions related to the labor market remain unanswered. With that in mind, Checkr surveyed 3,500 American workers to shed light on the current state of the job market and the attitudes and concerns of employees related to the job search process.

The survey polled workers across various industries and job levels. The results of the survey provide valuable insights into how workers are feeling about job security, wages and salary transparency, and the overall job market during this time of economic uncertainty. This information can be useful for organizations looking to attract and retain top talent, as well as for workers looking to navigate the job market during this challenging time.

Let’s get right into a summary of the key findings.

Summary of key findings

  • 90% of respondents said they would switch jobs in the next 12 months for a pay raise.
  • 90% of respondents said that a pay raise at their current job would stop them from searching for a new job.
  • 77% of respondents said they are currently searching, definitely searching in the near future, or are open to considering a job search in 2023.
  • 75% of respondents agree or are on the fence about a recession having a negative impact on a 2023 job search.
  • 74% of respondents agree or are on the fence about the current economic conditions making it less likely for them to quit their job to find a new one in 2023.
  • 62% of respondents would stay or consider staying at a job they’re unhappy with simply because the job search process is too stressful.
  • 66% of respondents said they are reluctant to ask or are on the fence about asking about salary ranges because it reflects poorly on them as a candidate.
  • Only 33% of respondents would go to an in-person interview without knowing the salary range of the position they’re interviewing for.
  • 66% of respondents said they would definitely apply or consider applying for a new job with a lower salary as long as they could work remotely full-time.
  • Only 52% of respondents are satisfied with the response rate of hiring managers during their job search.
  • Only 33% feel strongly that their applications are definitely seen by hiring managers during the application process.
  • Respondents said that the top three turn-offs during a job search are: 1. the amount of time it takes to complete the entire process (search, apply, and interview); 2. poor communication with the hiring team; and 3. lack of pay transparency.

How many Americans are job hunting in 2023 and why?

The Great Resignation led to a widespread shift in the labor market in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Also known as the Great Reshuffle and the Big Quit, this economic trend led to en masse quitting in early 2021. The most common reasons for resignation included wage stagnation, limited opportunities for advancement, lack of benefits, inflexible remote-work policies, and overall job dissatisfaction.

Since then, Americans have experienced an economic downturn resulting in layoffs and fewer job opportunities in specific sectors. American workers went from a feeling of control over where they work along with endless opportunities, to a new fear of layoffs and financial insecurity driven by inflation, a tumbling stock market, and overall economic uncertainty.

But how has this affected the sentiment of American workers regarding the job market and the search for new opportunities?

While the job market has shifted, it’s clear that American workers are still in pursuit of new opportunities. When asked how they would describe their job search status for 2023, an overwhelming 77% of respondents said they are currently searching, definitely searching in the near future, or are open to considering a search in 2023. It’s clear that many employees still plan to be on the move this year.

How many American workers are searching for new jobs in 2023?

Data from Checkr proprietary survey of 3,500 American workers.

Workers also noted that they are on the move for a few key reasons:

  1. 1. Higher salaries
  2. 2. More benefits and perks
  3. 3. More remote work opportunities

When it comes to leveraging potential new offers for a higher salary at their current job, 72% said this was, or potentially could be, their main objective for a job search.

Research has also shown that remote work is still important to Americans, but less so than just two years ago. Respondents agreed, with only 39% saying they only apply for remote/hybrid jobs.

As the Great Resignation taught us, loyalty at work has taken a huge hit over the years. Respondents agreed on this as it relates to the job search process and landing a new job as well, with only 19% saying they would stay at a job for a full calendar year before starting a new search. The majority of respondents stated that there is “no minimum amount of time to stay at a new job and employees need to do what’s best for them.”

American workers are clearly on the move in 2023 and for a number of different reasons.

Are Americans sick and tired of the job search process?

The data above shows that workers are looking for new opportunities in 2023. With that in mind, we wanted to uncover how they actually feel about the process of finding a new job.

To start, we set out to gauge the stress caused by the job search process. Is it that bad, really? We asked workers if they would prefer to stay at a job that makes them unhappy or navigate the stressors of a job search, and 62% said they would, or would consider, remaining unhappy at work in favor of starting a search for new opportunities.

A huge part of the stress that comes from a job search is the lack of responsiveness after submitting an application. Many articles have covered how to get past the tricky applicant tracking system, which shows how big of an issue this has become.

To that tune, only 52% of respondents said they were satisfied with the responsiveness of hiring managers when applying for jobs. Shockingly, even fewer respondents — only 33% —  said they trust that hiring managers actually see their applications once submitted — creating an uphill battle to find work.

Do American workers trust the application process?

Data from Checkr proprietary survey of 3,500 American workers.

Respondents echoed the above statements when asked about the biggest turn-offs during the job search and application process, sharing that the total amount of time it takes to search, apply and interview was their biggest turn-off, followed closely by poor communication from the hiring team. The lack of pay transparency was revealed as the third biggest turn-off for job seekers.

One positive aspect of the job search process has evolved from fair hiring practices. When asked if they trust that hiring managers are following fair hiring practices to avoid discrimination and that hiring is based on merit — and not related to a candidate's ethnicity, gender, religion, or any other quality unrelated to their skills and expertise, an overwhelming 75% of respondents said they do think fair hiring practices are followed.

Is it really all about the money?

We’ve learned that the majority of Americans might look for new work in 2023 and that the process can be a major struggle. But when it comes down to it, the majority of Americans work to earn a living and the financial incentives of a job are absolutely essential.

But to dig deeper, we wanted to know if money was really everything. Would workers leave a job instantly for a raise elsewhere? Would they stay put for a raise at their current job? Is either option preferred?

The answer is — workers will follow the money. When asked if workers would switch jobs in the next 12 months for a pay increase, a whopping 90% said yes, and the majority would switch jobs for a pay raise between 5% to 20%.

How many American workers would leave their job for a raise?

Data from Checkr proprietary survey of 3,500 American workers.

Conversely, when asked if workers would stay at their current job for a pay increase, the same amount, 90%, said they would indeed stay for more money. To stay, a 10% to 20% raise was preferred.

But is money really everything? It might be. When asked if making more money is the single most important reason for starting a new job search, only 28% disagreed with that statement.

In 2021, GoodHire reported that 61% of American workers said they would take a pay cut for remote work. With 2023 bringing much different and challenging economic conditions, we wanted to find out if the same sentiment still exists. When asked if workers would apply for new jobs with lower total compensation in favor of full-time remote work, 66% said they would definitely apply or would consider applying for those lesser-paying remote opportunities.

American workers have made it clear that they’ll follow the money. But as part of the job search process, uncovering salary ranges can be an issue.

Next, let’s learn more about pay transparency and its impact on the job search process.

How important is pay transparency?

When employers list pay ranges within published job descriptions, that is called pay transparency. In 2023, new laws are even going into effect that enhances pay transparency for certain industries and jobs. While we’ve come a long way from applicants having no clue about pay when first applying, many issues still exist in the world of full pay transparency.

To dig deeper, we asked American workers if they need to know a specific salary range before applying for a job. Unsurprisingly, only 19% said they don’t care and would apply without knowing the salary range.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story. We then asked if job seekers were reluctant to ask about salary directly during initial interviews because it might reflect poorly on them as a candidate, and 66% said they are reluctant to ask or are on the fence about asking about salary because it would make them look bad.

Workers are concerned about asking what they might be paid at a job, and this lack of pay transparency may be leading to increased stress levels for the applicants.

Are American workers scared to ask about salary during interviews?

Data from Checkr proprietary survey of 3,500 American workers.

Lastly, related to pay transparency, we asked workers if they would attend an in-person interview without knowing a specific salary range first. Pay transparency remains key, as only 33% said they would interview in person without knowing salary information.

Americans want pay transparency and laws have been enacted to provide just that. But still, job seekers are concerned that asking for salary information will make them less desirable candidates.

We know that anxiety exists with regard to compensation at work, but how much of that has to do with the current state of the American economy?

Let’s take a look at what American workers had to say about those factors.

Is economic anxiety crippling the job market?

To understand how the current economic conditions are impacting Americans' desires, or fears, to search for new jobs and make a career move, we asked questions related to potential recession signs, large batches of layoffs, inflation, and the rising cost of living in America.

We’ve learned that Americans have serious concerns about the job market and their ability to find new opportunities to begin with, but how concerned are they about a recession negatively affecting their search in 2023?

When asked, 75% of respondents said they agree or are on the fence about a recession negatively affecting their search.

74% of respondents also stated that their economic anxiety and fears of recession-driven layoffs make it less likely that they’ll quit their current jobs in favor of a new job search.

To add to the economic issues, 75% also said that inflation across America has motivated them to consider searching for a higher-paying job.

Is economic anxiety damaging America's job market and talent pool?

Data from Checkr proprietary survey of 3,500 American workers.

Overall, Americans are eager to find new work but are caught in the middle of a potential recession, devastating layoffs across many industries, and rising costs across the board. The decision to stay put at work or find new a new opportunity is an extremely difficult one for many Americans.

What’s the answer for the job seeker in 2023?

American workers have spoken. The job search process can be extremely stressful, but it is absolutely necessary as the majority of currently employed Americans plan to search for a new job in 2023.

The motivation for a new job is clear as well. Workers are following the money, whether that means leaving for a higher-paying opportunity or staying put for a slight raise at their current job.

But to find a job means navigating the stressful and lengthy job search process which contains many flaws of its own, including poor communication with hiring teams, and a lack of pay transparency, among others.

In the end, workers are tasked with navigating this process while enduring an increased level of economic anxiety due to ongoing talks about recession and inflation, along with visible layoffs in some of America’s most popular industries.

The American job market is closely tied to the overall state of the economy, and current economic uncertainty can have a significant impact on the availability of jobs. In times of economic uncertainty, businesses may become more cautious in their hiring decisions, leading to a slowdown in job growth or even job loss. Additionally, industries that are more sensitive to changes in consumer spending, such as retail and hospitality, may be particularly affected by inflation.

Overall, continued uncertainty about the labor market is expected in 2023 and beyond, but workers will continue their search for the best opportunities available and those will most likely be driven by the opportunity to earn a better living.

For more information on Checkr’s research or to request graphics or an interview about this study, please contact

Survey methodology

All data found within this report is derived from a survey by Checkr conducted online via the survey platform Pollfish. In total, 3,500 adult Americans were surveyed. The respondents were found via Pollfish’s age and employment filtering features. This survey was conducted over a two-day span, and all respondents were asked to answer all questions as truthfully as possible and to the best of their knowledge and abilities.


The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. We advise you to consult your own counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.

About the author

Sara Korolevich serves as’s editor and content manager. In this role, she produces educational resources for employers on a broad range of screening topics, including background check compliance and best practices. She also writes about Checkr’s company and product news to keep customers updated and informed.

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