The number of Americans who quit their jobs hit a record high in September, continuing a historic turnover that shows no signs of abating before the holiday season.
The Labor Department reported that quits, or the number of jobs that workers left voluntarily, totaled a record 4.4 million in September while the quits rate — a measurement of workers leaving jobs as a share of overall employment — was 3%, also a record high.
Nearly a million people quit jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry alone, reflecting the steep competition for workers there as employers recover from last year’s pandemic-induced shutdowns.
With the pace of quitters, “employers are basically having to replace their entire staff in just a couple of months. It’s really quite dramatic,” ZipRecruiter chief economist Julia Pollak told CNBC.
Industries that require most employees to work in person, such as manufacturing, retail and health care — as well as leisure and hospitality — report the biggest increases in the rate of workers leaving their jobs.
“We are seeing big pickups in quits in the industries that are having the hardest time hiring right now,” Nick Bunker, director of economic research for the job site Indeed, told The New York Times.
The number of job openings fell to 10.4 million at the end of September, down a bit from the record 11.1 million posted in July, before the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus led to a slump in sales in some businesses.
But the labor force participation rate, which measures how many people are working or actively looking for work, has held steady for months at 61.6%, down 1.7 percentage points from pre-pandemic levels.
According to CNBC, “People who change jobs are seeing faster wage growth than people who stay. And hiring incentives, along with a pandemic-low unemployment rate, could encourage people not in the labor force to re-enter while the market is hot.”
But with the quits rate 30% higher today than it was in February 2020, Emsi Burning Glass senior economist Ron Hetrick doesn’t expect the record turnover to cool before the end of the year.