Nation/World

A record 4.5 million US workers quit or changed jobs in November

An estimated 4.5 million workers quit or changed jobs in November according to new data from the Department of Labor, as labor shortages have helped create one of the more worker friendly job climates in years.

The report continues to show a trend of high turnover in the labor market, a sign of how profoundly the economy has been reshuffled in the nearly two years since the onset of the pandemic.

That number is up from the 4.2 million who quit or changed jobs in October, and surpassed the previous record of 4.4 million in September.

The number of people who left jobs for other opportunities in November made up 3.0% of the workforce, the BLS said in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. And the survey also found some 10.6 million job openings.

That number is not a record but is still elevated. Openings did decrease in restaurants and bars, construction work, and good manufacturing.

Employers in many industries have been complaining about labor shortages for nearly a year now, which has caused a scramble by many to raise wages or offer generous signing bonuses. Staffing issues have coursed through the worlds of tourism and hospitality, with hotels, restaurants and bars reporting trouble finding workers, as well as employers in trucking, construction, transportation and other industries.

Workers too have sought different types of work as well, as safety concerns and child and family care issues remain a lingering aspect of the pandemic.

This in turn has lead to a lot of workers changing jobs or industries for better opportunities, as job sites report elevated numbers of people looking to change industries and work from home. Other workers have been prompted into early retirements, or left the labor force entirely, causing the participation rate to tick down.

But overall the labor market recovery was strong in 2021, as the country added more than 500,000 jobs a month through the first 11 months of the year.

There are concerns now about a slowdown after November’s numbers came in below expectations. How strongly the latest coronavirus surge will affect the labor market remains an open question as well.

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