In November, 4.5 million Americans quit their employment, further evidence that the job market in the United States is recovering rapidly from last year's coronavirus recession.
The Labor Department also said Tuesday that businesses had 10.6 million vacancies to fill in November, down from 11.1 million in October but still high by historical standards.
Employers hired 6.7 million individuals in November, up from 6.5 million in October, according to the Labor Department's monthly Jobs Openings and Labor Turnover Survey released Tuesday.
Quits were prevalent in low-wage hotel and restaurant businesses, according to Nick Bunker of Indeed Hiring Lab.
“Lots of quits means stronger worker bargaining power which will likely feed into strong wage gains... Wage growth was very strong in 2021, and ... we might see more of the same in 2022.''
Even so, the Labor Department collected the data before COVID-19's omicron variant had spread widely in the United States. “While each successive wave of the pandemic caused less economic damage, there is still a risk to the labor market from the current surge of cases,'' Bunker said.
The job market is bouncing back from last year's short but intense coronavirus recession. Governments ordered lockdowns, people stayed home, and many firms shut or reduced hours when COVID appeared. Employers cut more than 22 million jobs in March and April 2020, with the unemployment rate rising to 14.8%.
However, massive government spending and eventually the vaccination rollout helped the economy recover. Since April 2020, businesses have added 18.5 million jobs in the United States, yet the country is still 3.9 million jobs short of what it had before the pandemic. According to a poll by data firm FactSet, the economy created almost 393,000 more jobs in December than it did in November.
The unemployment rate has dropped to 4.2%, which is almost what economists consider full employment.