Aug 10, 2021 - Economy & Business

Workers quit at historic clip

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

Demand for labor seems to be getting stronger, and workers are taking advantage by quitting.

Why it matters: Businesses are scrambling to fill job openings as they try to catch up with booming demand.

  • Many companies are aggressively raising wages to recruit, which has resulted in workers quitting their old jobs for better opportunities.

By the numbers: 3.87 million workers quit their jobs in June, according to the BLS’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. This is close to the record, set in April, of 3.99 million.

  • This represents 2.7% of the workforce in June, which is also just below April’s record rate of 2.8%.
  • Quits as a percentage of total separations — which includes layoffs, firings and retirements — reached 69.3% in June. This measure, also known as the “take this job and shove it” indicator is at an all-time high.

What they’re saying: "People tend to leave their jobs when they find a better opportunity, and we think part of the high quits rate reflects the massive suburbanization trend that started during the pandemic," DataTrek Research co-founder Jessica Rabe tells Axios.

Zoom out: Many of these folks are accounted for in the 6.72 million hirings that occurred during the month.

  • But the fact that job openings still set a new record of 10.07 million during the period speaks to how strong the demand for labor continues to be.
  • For context, there were 9.48 million unemployed workers during the period.

In other words, there were more job openings than unemployed workers, a dynamic that hasn't occurred since before the pandemic.

The bottom line: "Labor demand keeps getting stronger," Indeed Hiring Lab economic research director Nick Bunker writes.

  • "Job seekers, both jobless and employed, are taking advantage of this situation with job switching near historic levels and nominal wages growing quickly. The question now is by how much and how quickly will this situation fade."
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