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THROW IN THE TOWEL

The US quits rate returned to a record in November—and that was before omicron hit

Help wanted sign
REUTERS/Mike Blake
Good help is still hard to find—especially in the food and hotel sectors.
  • Nate DiCamillo
By Nate DiCamillo

Economics reporter based in New York.

Published

Americans were quitting at all-time highs again in November, with pandemic-hit industries like food services seeing the largest number of workers giving notice.

While the quits rate—the number of workers voluntarily leaving their jobs as a percent of total employment—had dipped from a record 3% to 2.8% in October, it crept back up to 3% in November, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Meanwhile the number of job openings declined from 11 million to 10.6 million, with pandemic-hit sectors like hotels and food services again leading the way.

Government data has yet to show how the job market was affected by the more transmissible omicron variant, which appeared in the US in late November and became the dominant variant in December.

Signs of a healthy US job market

While the total number of quits in November hit 4.5 million, the number of hires reached 6.7 million, suggesting most quitters were moving on from one job to the next.

As of November, there were 1.5 job openings for every unemployed person, giving job seekers more opportunities to find work and signaling a healthier labor market in the future.

“Making it possible for people to be more discerning in their job search and skills development is good for productivity in the medium and long term,” said Alex Williams, a research analyst at Employ America, a labor-market research and advocacy group.

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