Tuesday, January 4, 2022

The Great Resignation picks up even more in November

Up through November, the Great Resignation was continuing, and as we found out today, if anything it is speeding up.
Americans quit jobs at a record pace in November as job openings hovered close to their all-time highs in a sign that workers continued to hold most of the leverage before the omicron variant sent COVID-19 cases soaring.

The number of workers quitting jobs vaulted to 4.[5] million from 4.2 million, above the prior record of 4.4 million reached in September, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That means 3% of workers voluntarily left their positions, matching September's record high.

Employers posted 10.6 million job openings, down from a near-record 11 million the previous month and just below July’s all-time high, Labor said in its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. Openings have topped 10 million for six straight months.
And that jump in quits was headed up by a big increase in Accomodation and Food Services, with an increase of 159,000 from October’s figure. Since vaccinations became available to most Americans in March, that sector has had a larger increase in quits than hires in every month since August.

And hires in Accomodation and Food Services only increased by 4,000 in November, helping to explain why that sector stalled out in November’s jobs report after good job growth the previous month. Interestingly, reported job openings in that sector dropped by 261,000, which indicates that perhaps expansion plans were being put on hold as COVID infections started rising.

Another big driver of that increase in quits came from professional/business health care/social services (+52,000), which probably is another layer as to why hospitals are overloaded these days, and why people are lying on waiting room floors to get services. In fact, health care/social assistance now had a greater growth in need since March than food services/accomodations does.

In these jobs that combine high levels of personal contact and stress while COVID still runs around, it is clear a lot of Americans aren’t accepting the job situations that they were previously in.

Despite the “disappointing” jobs numbers from November (well, for now anyway), we still had more hiring was happening, up nearly 200,000 to 6.7 million. That included notable seasonally-adjusted gains in construction (+48,000), and while professional/business services and finance/insurance had sizable levels of quits, many of those open positions were replaced with new hires.

November 2021, quits/hires.
Professional/business services
Quits +68,000
Hires +45,000

Quits +29,000
Hires +30,000

Friday’s December jobs report should give an indication as to whether the breakout of omnicron was starting to have an effect on hiring (but worth noting, that survey is 3 weeks and a lot of COVID cases ago), but given the high level of quits and new hires, I would bet wage growth will be strong, particularly at the lower wage levels, as it has been throughout 2021’s Great Resignation.

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