Record number of U.S. workers quit their jobs in September

Employers continue to struggle to fill millions of vacant jobs – and keep the workers they already have. More than 4.4 million workers ...


Employers continue to struggle to fill millions of vacant jobs – and keep the workers they already have.

More than 4.4 million workers voluntarily left their jobs in September, the The Ministry of Labor said on Friday. It was from 4.3 million in August and was the highest in the two decades the government has followed. Nearly a million people have left their jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector alone, reflecting stiff competition for workers as businesses recover from closures induced by last year’s pandemic.

There were 10.4 million job openings in the United States at the end of September. That’s down a bit from the record 11.1 million recorded in July, before the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus caused sales to plummet at some companies. But labor demand remains extraordinarily high by historical standards – before the pandemic, the record for one-month job vacancies was 7.6 million in November 2018. The Ministry of Labor has revised its estimate of job openings in August at 10.6 million.

There were about 75 unemployed for every 100 vacancies in September, the lowest ratio on record. Separate data released last week by the Ministry of Labor showed that employment growth rebounded in October but that the workforce has hardly increased.

“You basically see that demand continues to rise without an offsetting increase in talent,” said Ryan Sutton, district manager for Robert Half International, a recruiting company. “Until new talent comes in, until we find people in the market who are on the sidelines, it is very likely that this will continue.”

Economists cite a number of reasons for slow return. The pandemic is still disrupting childcare services, making it harder for some parents; other workers fear contracting the virus or passing it on to high-risk family members. Many Americans have also accumulated their savings during the pandemic, which allows them to be more selective when it comes to employment.

These factors are expected to ease as the pandemic recedes and savings decline. But other changes may prove to be more lasting. In a research note released Friday, economists at Goldman Sachs observed that about two-thirds of people who had left the workforce during the pandemic were over 55; many of them have retired and are unlikely to return to work.

The labor crisis gives workers the upper hand in negotiations. Wages have risen sharply in recent months, especially in service jobs, although in other sectors wages have been rising. lagging behind the rate of inflation.

The recent increase in the number of workers quitting suggests that many are using their influence to take better-paying jobs, or to seek them out. At the same time, the understaffing in many companies can put pressure on the remaining workers, causing even more people to quit their jobs. Industries that require most employees to work in person, such as manufacturing, retailing and health care, as well as recreation and hospitality, have the largest increases in the rate of workers leaving their jobs.

“We are seeing a sharp increase in quits in the industries that are having the most difficulty hiring right now,” said Nick Bunker, director of economic research for employment site Indeed.

Kaylie Sweeting worked as a bartender in Millburn, NJ, during most of the pandemic, despite concerns about interacting with unmasked customers and frustration over low wages. But when the restaurant pressured a colleague to come to work ill this summer, Ms. Sweeting resigned.

“The work was absolutely not worth it anymore,” she said. “I was hurt that a company I gave my time to didn’t seem to put me or my safety first.”

So Ms. Sweeting, 23, and her partner, a cook, decided to take the money they had saved up to buy a house and open their own vegan restaurant instead. They recently signed a lease and are starting renovations, with plans to open early next year. They try to apply the lessons they’ve learned as employees, promising good wages, paid time off, and other basic benefits that restaurant jobs often fail to deliver.

“I really like the industry,” Ms. Sweeting said. “I just don’t like the way it’s run. I feel like the only way to change this is to implement the change yourself.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Record number of U.S. workers quit their jobs in September
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