NEW YORK (PIX11) — The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to an epidemic among American workers. Following months of stress, often working from remote locations during the COVID-19 crisis, almost 48 million workers have voluntarily left their jobs, a phenomenon known as the “Great Resignation.”

“Call it the ‘Great Resignation,’ but I would actually say it’s the ‘Great Reckoning.’ Employees around 2020, 2021 came to the idea that they had enough,” said Jason Greer, a labor consultant and CEO of Greer Consulting.

Greer believes this phenomenon was a long time coming. Early in the pandemic, he said the trend was led by younger workers in low-paying industries such as retail, foodservice and health care. Now, the main growth in the quit rates is coming from older, more tenured workers in higher-paid industries such as finance and technology, according to Greer. COVID-19 is seen as a primary motivator for the exodus.

“People were faced with their own mortality, and in asking those bigger questions, the biggest question was, ‘Do I want to spend the rest of my life working, or do I want to spend the rest of my life actually enjoying my life?’” Greer said.

It was family that prompted Amber Recchion to give up a 17-year marketing career, quitting her managerial job last year.

“I was juggling the many demands of a career as well as the demands and the joys of raising three young children. The pandemic made me realize that I really wanted to spend more time at home with my kids,” Recchion said.

A Pew Research poll indicates that Recchion is among 48% of respondents who said they quit for the same reason. The majority, 63% of workers who bolted from their job last year, said they left because the pay was too low. 63% also said they left because they felt there was little opportunity for advancement. 57% felt disrespected at work, and 43% were not satisfied with benefits.

For seven years, Jean Madison was director of recruitment for a nonprofit. “My mental health suffered. My physical health suffered,” Madison said. “The pandemic played a huge part in me leaving, just due to the overall stress from having to manage a team’s work as well as their personal lives in a way that I was not prepared to do.”

Madison has since started her own consulting business. Many of those quitting are also heading to greener pastures with higher-paying jobs.

“Employees are recognizing how important they are to the economic strength or economic weakness of our country. You can’t have a company if you don’t have any employees,” Greer said.

Some companies are trying to lure back employees who quit or were part of a layoff, such as Nicole Symeonides, who has since started her own marketing company.

“It was very difficult for me to say no because I did love my job, but I just feel like I’m in a great place right now,” Symeonides said.

With more than 11 million job openings just a few months ago, employers are pleading with workers to join their companies. Consultants say it will take more than just higher salaries to get them. Greer said employers need to learn how to respect and recognize their workers in order to retain them and put an end to the Great Resignation.