More than 4.5 million workers voluntarily walked away in November, leaving employers scrambling to fill empty slots amid a starved labor market.
Americans are quitting their jobs at the fastest pace ever, exacerbating staffing shortages for restaurants, hotels, and other businesses that were already struggling to fill empty slots amid fierce competition for workers.
About 4.53 million workers voluntarily left their jobs in November, exceeding the previous record of 4.36 million that was set in September, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on Tuesday. The quit level amounted to 3% of the entire US work force and jumped 37% from a year earlier.
Some of the biggest losses were in lodging and food services, which saw 920,000 workers walk away, and retail trade, with 686,000 defections. Hospitals and other healthcare employers were also hit hard, losing 598,000 workers, the report showed.
Employment separations were largely a one-way street, as more than three workers quit for every one that was discharged. Employers were apparently reluctant to fire workers amid the tight labor market, as November layoffs and other discharges totaled 1.37 million, down 36% from a year earlier.
Workers are quitting in droves amid government benefits and greater opportunities to job-hop as rival employers dangle higher wages and signing bonuses. In other cases, the pandemic has caused people to rethink their work and family lives.
Employers had 10.6 million jobs to fill in November and managed to hire nearly 6.7 million people, BLS said. The number of available jobs was up 56% from a year earlier and was close to the peak of 11.1 million reached in July. Although businesses had far more vacant jobs to fill, the number of hires rose just 11% from a year earlier. While employers filled 89% of available jobs in the same month of 2020, the rate dropped to 63% last November.
The high number of available jobs apparently reflects turnover more than economic growth. Just 210,000 jobs were added in November, the BLS said on Monday, the fewest in nearly a year. Job growth fell far short of expectations, as economists surveyed by Dow Jones had predicted a gain of 573,000. The US jobless rate fell to 4.2%, but it was still higher than the 3.5% level that was hit just before the Covid-19 pandemic.