The number of Americans voluntarily quitting their jobs surged to a record 4.5 million in November, a show of confidence in the labor market and an indication that higher wages could prevail for a while.
The 370,000 increase in quits reported in the Labor Department’s monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS report, on Tuesday was led by the accommodation and food services industry.
There were also big increases in the health care and social assistance fields as well as the transportation, warehousing and utilities sectors. All four U.S. regions reported a rise in the number of people quitting their jobs.
“The historic rates of quitting continued through the end of 2021,” said Nick Bunker, director of research at job services company Indeed Hiring Lab. “Workers continued to switch jobs in light of the many opportunities the current labor market provides, with the private sector quits rate hitting an all-time high of 3.4 percent. Of course, whether these conditions continue into 2022 is one of the biggest questions for the year ahead.”
Lower-wage sectors directly impacted by the pandemic continue to see higher levels of quitting, Bunker said, noting that the quits rate among the hospitality sector was 6.9 percent. There were also large declines in job openings in this sector, as well as the construction and nondurable goods manufacturing industries.
Job openings, a measure of labor demand, dropped by 529,000 to a still-high 10.6 million on the last day of November. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 11.075 million vacancies.