As predicted, the number of Americans quitting their jobs continues to set records. The latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover (JOLT) report from the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows that 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November. The quits rate, which serves as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to leave jobs, rose in November to its September peak of 3% after sliding back slightly in October. However, the total number of quits in November slightly edges out September to set a new total record.
In October, the Department of Labor reported that 4.2 million had quit or changed jobs, and in September, 4.4 million - the previous record. November's number is 4.5 million, or 3.4%.
The large rise in quitting was concentrated in low wage sectors. By industry, job openings declined most notably in accommodation and food services, with vacancies falling by 261,000 but remaining at a still-elevated 1.3 million in total. Construction and non-durable goods manufacturing employers also saw notable drops in job openings at 110,000 and 66,000, respectively. Resignations amongst minority groups in the US continue to hit record levels.
The report is pre-omicron variant, which has many economists worried that the trend will only accelerate among workers in highest-risk occupations, which are often amongst the lowest wage roles. In an email to Yahoo Finanace, Chris Rupkey, chief economist for FWDBONDS, wrote: "Companies have shifted their demand for workers at a pace that is normally only seen during economic booms. The economy is booming today but for how long is the question with the spread of the latest COVID variant that is closing many schools and slowing commerce and buyer traffic at many shops and malls."
Total hires were little changed in November at 6.7 million. Layoffs and discharges were also steady.
The number of job openings in November totaled 10.56 million. This comes in lower than a Bloomberg survey of economists, which had called for a rise to 11.1 million job openings. While the drop was the largest since April 2020, vacancies remain well above pre-pandemic levels.
The level, however, was well ahead of the 6.88 million total of those out of work and looking for jobs in November. The labor force participation rate remained depressed compared to pre-pandemic levels, and the civilian labor force was still down by about 2.4 million participants versus levels from February 2020.