More workers quit than ever in November as US job vacancies remain near a record high.


A record number of Americans left their jobs in November, even as employers found it a little easier to fill their vacancies.

More than 4.5 million people voluntarily quit their jobs in November, the Labor Department said on Tuesday. This was up from 4.2 million in October and was the largest in the two decades the government has tracked. The quit rate has been particularly high in the hospitality industry and other low-wage sectors, where workers have taken advantage of strong demand to seek better-paying jobs or better working conditions.

There were 10.6 million job vacancies posted on the last day of November. That was down from 11.1 million in October, but still more than in any month before the pandemic began – and far more than the nearly seven million Americans looking for ‘a work.

“Demand from employers is still extremely high, and the result is increased competition for workers,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at the career site Glassdoor. “It means more job openings, higher wages and more labor market churn.”

Competition for workers has resulted in faster wage growth this year, especially for those who change jobs. According to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, hourly wages for people changing jobs rose 4.3% on average in November, compared to 3.2% for people who kept their jobs.

The data released on Tuesday comes from the Labor Department’s survey of job vacancies and workforce turnover, known as JOLTS. On Friday, the department will release data for December on jobs, unemployment and earnings, which most forecasters expect to show job growth accelerated by the end of the year.

Data from both reports, however, predates the recent explosion in coronavirus cases across the country. The latest wave of Covid-19, linked to the Omicron variant of the virus, has forced airlines to cancel flights, companies to delay return-to-office plans, and school districts to temporarily return to distance learning. How this will affect the economy at large, Zhao said, remains unclear.

“The data we are getting now does not fully capture the impact of Omicron,” he said.


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