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Job openings — and resignations — still at historic highs

Sabri Ben-Achour Feb 1, 2022
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Employers are struggling to find people to fill jobs. Olivier Douliery/ Getty Images

Job openings — and resignations — still at historic highs

Sabri Ben-Achour Feb 1, 2022
Heard on:
Employers are struggling to find people to fill jobs. Olivier Douliery/ Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

More than 4 million people quit their jobs in December, just a smidge below the record all-time high of 4.5 million in November. The number of job openings went up to 10.9 million open jobs.

That’s according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The takeaway from the summary is that it’s still a great time to be looking for a new job. It doesn’t look at all as good for companies trying to hire right now.

Chris Chin, a veterinarian in New York City, mostly deals with dogs and cats (although has had the occasional run-in with a pigeon). Chin wasn’t happy at his last clinic.

“I was overworked and getting underpaid, so I decided to look for another job,” he said. He quit, as did 26 million other people over the last six months. It wasn’t hard for Chin to find a new job. 

In December, despite the spread of the omicron variant, employers had about as many jobs open as they ever have. Openings even rose slightly, and hiring slowed down.

“The gap between job openings and hires reached its widest point ever,” said Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, a Marketplace underwriter. Employers are desperate, Pollak said.

“Historically, in the past, when a company had 10 vacancies to fill there would be 23 unemployed job seekers ready to fill them. Now, there are fewer than six,” she explained.

Almost as many people quit their jobs in December as they did in November. As a result, employers were especially reluctant to fire people in December. 

“We did hit an all-time low when it came to layoffs,” said Nick Bunker, North America economic research director for Indeed (also a Marketplace underwriter).

Businesses aren’t firing people, even people they may want to fire. Moving into January, Indeed’s data shows omicron may have finally started to drag down postings for in-person jobs. “Manufacturing positions, food service positions, ones where a surge in the pandemic is going to cause more disruptions to work,” Bunker said.

Signs are that those disruptions will be temporary and the labor market is going to keep on keeping on being ulcer-inducing for hiring managers — and great for workers.  

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