By Marcus Leach

At a time when the job market remains weak workers are opting to remain in their current job rather than moving to fresh pastures, figures have revealed.

The Office for National Statistics said that 674,000 people left their main job in the second quarter of 2011, 42% down on the peak of 1.17 million in 1998.

"When job opportunities are limited there are fewer opportunities to move, people are often reluctant to change jobs and some people will become unemployed as businesses shed some of their workforce," the ONS said.

Of the 674,000 people who left their main job in 2011 57 per cent, or 382,000 chose to leave voluntarily, whilst 43 per cent, or 292,000 were made to leave involuntarily.

Over the fifteen year period between 1996 and 2011, people generally were more likely to leave their job voluntarily than involuntarily. However from the onset of the 2008-09 recession, the percentage of those choosing to leave their job and those being made to leave narrowed considerably.

In the 2nd quarter of 2009 (the final quarter of the recession), the number of people leaving their main job on a voluntary basis was equivalent to the number leaving on an involuntary basis, both at 382,000, or 1.4 per cent of the total workforce.

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