4.2 million people quit their jobs in October

Sabri Ben-Achour Dec 8, 2021
Heard on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
According to the latest JOLTS report, the accommodation and food services sector had the largest increase in job openings. Joe Raedle via Getty Images

4.2 million people quit their jobs in October

Sabri Ben-Achour Dec 8, 2021
Heard on:
According to the latest JOLTS report, the accommodation and food services sector had the largest increase in job openings. Joe Raedle via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The number of job openings rose to 11 million in October, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The largest increase was in accommodation and food services.

At the same time, slightly fewer people quit their jobs that month — the rate fell to 2.8%. Even with that dip, it was still a lot of people: 4.2 million, adding to the total of 15 million since August.

Daniel Fabiani was one of them. “I felt like I’d plateaued at my current job, and compensation was becoming an issue,” he said.

He was being picky about looking for a new job. He wanted a challenge, more money, a better title. And in this labor market, he got it — all of it.

“I wasn’t accepting just any old job. It took a good 13 to 14 months to land this job,” Fabiani said.

The number of people like Fabiani who quit fell ever so slightly in October, but it was still way higher than before the pandemic. The largest share of these departures — about 45% — is happening at small businesses, according to Constance Hunter, chief economist at KPMG.

“It makes one question: What are some stylized facts we know about smaller firms?” she said. “They probably don’t have as many perks and benefits.”

That’s one reason Hunter said we will see strong wage growth through next year. David Mericle, chief U.S. economist at Goldman Sachs, expects that too.

“The ratio of job openings to people unemployed is still very high,” he said — 11 million openings and 7 million unemployed people.

Earlier this year, annual wage growth was about 5% to 6%. “Because we still had the enhanced federal unemployment benefits in place, a lot of unemployed workers were not looking as hard as they are now or were somewhat less willing to take a job,” Mericle said.

That 5% to 6% wage growth would have made inflation worse, Mericle said. Now, that measure is settling down to about 4%, which he said won’t push inflation too much.

For Nick Bunker, economic research director at Indeed — a Marketplace underwriter — the big question now is the omicron coronavirus variant “and what that will do to the behavior of consumers, workers and employers.”

In general though, Bunker said, if you want to know what’s going on with the job market, keep an eye on who’s quitting.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.