Workers quitting jobs in search of higher wages

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COLUMBIA - According to Tyree Byndom, a recruiter at Job Point in Columbia, 56 percent of the people in Columbia have degrees, but there's also a 50 percent free and reduced lunch. 

"We've got this dichotomy that we have intelligence, and a lot of those individuals are underemployed, but we also have poverty and we're trying to figure out how to fix that," Byndom said.

Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows an increase in the quit rate for workers in the Midwest. They also rank Missouri as the state with the lowest-paid federal workers. Byndom said Missouri is an at-will state which means that workers don't have to give a notice when they want to quit their jobs. 

"They don't have to give a two week notice," Byndom said. "That's just a courtesy. They don't have to. Employers also, at-will, don't have to give any reason why they're letting someone go."

With a turnover rate for jobs in the state at 17 percent, some Missouri workers could see quitting and finding a new job as an alternative to waiting for a pay raise that may never come. Byndom said workers in Missouri quit because they want other opportunities. But a rising quit rate can also mean a rise in wages. 

"Those numbers can fluctuate up and down, but really it's based on a lot of people are working two jobs, two and three jobs just to make the same amount now because a lot of them are underemployed," Byndom said.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows jobs in restaurants and hospitality with the highest turnover rates. January of this year showed a quit rate of 2 percent. The numbers for February are set to be released early April.