U.S. employees quit their jobs at a record-high rate in November, and job openings stayed near their highest levels ever, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).
The numbers: At the end of November, there were 10.6 million job openings and 4.5 million quits. The November quit rate was 3.0%, up from October’s 2.8%.
- Also in November, 6.9 million people were unemployed but said they wanted to find jobs, which translates to about two workers for every three job openings.
What’s happening: “Workers continued to switch jobs in light of the many opportunities the current labor market provides,” said Indeed Economist Nick Bunker. “The low-wage sectors directly impacted by the pandemic continued to be the source of much of the elevated quitting.… Several industries are bearing the brunt of persistently elevated quits, including retail; leisure and hospitality; professional and business services; and health care and social assistance.”
Why: Employees who are leaving are seeking better compensation, more flexibility and/or better work opportunities, according to economists. Among health care workers, a main reason that workers are leaving is stress and burnout, much of it “probably due to the delta wave” of COVID-19.
The COVID-19 factor: “Omicron could dent the labor market if school closures and child-care disruptions in particular limit people’s ability to work,” Grant Thornton Chief Economist Diane Swonk told the Journal. “The biggest thing to watch is participation—if omicron affects it. That’s what I’m really worried about as we get into January.”