Updated Jan 4, 2022 - Economy & Business

A record 4.5 million workers quit their jobs in November

Correction: This chart was changed to show leisure and hospitality was the industry with a 6.4% quit rate, not health care and social assistance. Data: BLS; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

A record 4.5 million workers quit their jobs in November, according to government data released Tuesday morning.

Why it matters: The numbers, from the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, are the latest sign that the job market is red hot for workers, particularly for employees in lower-wage industries.

  • America’s quits rate is now 3%, matching the highest in the two decades the government has kept records. But sectors like accommodation and food services and retail are seeing workers quit at much higher rates — 6.9% and 4.4%, respectively.

Between the lines: These workers weren’t quitting the labor force entirely: 6.7 million people were hired in November, similar to the month prior.

  • Job openings dipped to 10.6 million from 11 million. (That's still higher than at any point before the pandemic hit.)

The bottom line: “It’s not understood in the broader public discussion, people aren’t quitting their jobs to leave the labor force they are quitting their jobs to take other jobs,” said Heidi Shierholz, president of the progressive Economic Policy Institute.

What to watch: These numbers pre-date the emergence of the Omicron variant, which has added a new level of uncertainty in the job market that's still shaking out.

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