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Expand chart
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

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%.

Go deeper

One-on-one with Stephanie Linnartz of Marriott International

Stephanie Linnartz of Marriott International in 2018. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/Getty Images

“People are dying for experiences now more than ever,” Stephanie Linnartz, Marriott International president, tells Axios.

  • “Leisure travel in many states and parts of the world is beating 2019,” Linnartz notes, speaking on the sidelines of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit.

Unruly customers threaten economic recovery

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The pace of the economic recovery hinges in part on workers returning to jobs that involve dealing with an unpredictable public. But many of those workers say increasingly combative customers — angry about everything from long wait times to mask mandates — have prompted them to quit.

The big picture: Aggressive and violent clashes between customers and service workers over COVID safety protocols over the past nearly two years have led to prison sentences, fines and deaths.

Nashville's war for talent

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Nashville is looking to hire plumbers, nurses, correctional officers and more as multiple city agencies scramble to keep their rosters full.

Why it matters: Many of the jobs Nashville leaders are looking to fill are central to key city services.

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