WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, American workers have quit their jobs in record numbers — and that’s impacting the economy in various ways.

In what’s being called The Great Resignation, Americans are searching for jobs with better benefits or new career paths. And older Americans are leaving the jobs market permanently.

“While labor force participation has edged up, it remains subdued in part reflecting the aging of the population and retirements,” said Fed Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

AARP conducted a survey of Americans 50-and-older, and “21% of them said they retired earlier than they had planned because of the pandemic,” said AARP’s Susan Weinstock.

She said those newly retired said they left their jobs for a variety of reasons, including concerns about exposure to COVID-19.

Many older Americans said they won’t return to the labor force as their early retirements are permanent.

Of those that have returned, AARP said, they aren’t going back to the same jobs they had before.

“A third of them found better pay,” Weinstock said, “25% said the job had the number of hours that they wanted to work and about a quarter of them also said that it offered more flexibility, like work from home.”

While the Great Resignation poses challenges for employers, it’s also providing greater benefits for workers.

“With constraints on labor supply, employers are having difficulties filling job openings and wages are rising at their fastest pace in many years,” Powell said.

The AARP survey also found that those who returned to work reported finding jobs they were more passionate about.