A Record 4.3 Million Workers Quit Their Jobs in August

October 11, 2021

A record number of workers quit their jobs last month, with hospitality and retail workers, in particular, leaving their jobs in droves.

According to the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, the quits rate, which tracks the number portion of the total workforce who voluntarily left employment, rose to 2.9% in August, up from 2.7% the month before. This amounts to 4.3 million workers leaving their jobs and is the highest quits rate since data began being collected in 2000.

Restaurant and hospitality workers led the way in quitting, as 892,000 workers in the food service and accommodation industries left their jobs. 

Under normal circumstances, a high quit rate indicates that workers are confident about the economy, as they only leave their current employer because they believe that they can secure higher pay or better benefits elsewhere. During the pandemic, however, workers may choose to leave because of healthcare concerns or childcare needs.

The workers who quit in August entered a slightly tighter job market. The number of vacant positions fell to 10.44 million during the month, down from 11.1 million the month prior and well below forecasts of 10.96 million.

Analysts closely watch the survey to determine how much slack is in the labor market, but the report has taken on additional importance in recent months, as it may signal where inflationary pressure is headed. Steep increases in wages, which are secured by workers changing jobs, can increase costs for employers, who pass these costs onto consumers, driving up inflation.

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