Jul 8, 2021 - Economy

Leisure and hospitality workers quit at a record pace

Leisure and hospitality industry quit rate
Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans working in leisure and hospitality are quitting their jobs at a record pace.

Why it matters: Labor shortages have been affecting numerous industries. But it's been particularly acute in leisure and hospitality as increasingly vaccinated consumers take their delayed vacations and rush back to restaurants, bars and live events.

Our thought bubble: With workers in high demand, many quitters are trading up for different or better-paying jobs. This explains why unemployment figures aren't ballooning.

By the numbers: 5.3% of workers employed in leisure and hospitality quit their jobs in May, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Wednesday.

  • This is a record level for the industry, and well above pre-pandemic levels (4.1% in February 2020).
  • It’s also much higher than the 2.5% average quit rate for all industries.

Context: About 764,000 leisure and hospitality workers quit their jobs during the month. Also in May, employers hired 1.343 million workers, and yet they still had 1.415 million job openings.

The bottom line: Leisure and hospitality "is the canary in the coal mine to a certain extent in the pandemic recession recovery," Indeed Hiring Lab’s Nick Bunker tells Axios’ Courtenay Brown.

"Take this job and shove it"

Data: FRED and BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: FRED and BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals

On the subject of quitting... DataTrek Research monitors quits as a percent of total job separations. They call it the "take this job and shove it" indicator.

  • For all industries combined, this figure came in at 67.8% in May — the second-highest level ever.
  • "At a 5.9% unemployment rate, this level of quits is unusually high and reflects how different this crisis is compared to previous recessions," DataTrek Research co-founder Jessica Rabe tells Axios.

For leisure and hospitality, this figure was even higher at a record 76.4%.

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