As the rise of Omicrons began, Americans quit their jobs at near-record rates



The so-called “Great Resignation” is becoming a tricky situation for the US economy, with new data showing that workers continue to quit at near-record rates into late 2021. As well as variable Omicron disease began to spread nationwide in December, workers continued to change jobs or leave jobs – leaving employers scrambling to hire.

About 4.3 million people submitted their resignations in December, the Labor Department said on Tuesday. This is down slightly from November, when a monthly all-time high of 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs.

Layoffs hit historic lows in December as employers continued to maintain their current workforces amid struggles to hire new employees.

According to senior economists Ron Hetrick and Rucha Vankudre at Emsi Burning Glass, employers expect relief not to come anytime soon. Competition for low-wage workers in industries such as restaurants and childcare is particularly fierce, but not enough applicants are applying for open jobs in those sectors.

The “great resignation” is certainly not slowing down, said Luke Pardue, an economist at payroll services firm Gusto.

According to Gusto data, although layoffs are at a record low, many businesses have responded to the recent surge in COVID cases by cutting working hours for workers. as Omicron spread across the country, Gusto’s data showed. It shows that bosses are anticipating a rebound in business from the Omicron wave – and are worried they could have trouble getting workers back if they cut jobs right away. now.

Employers “now see light at the end of the tunnel, and there will be reasons to expand,” Pardue said. But “It is difficult to add staff right now in this extremely tight labor market,” he added.

According to Gusto, between November and January, about a third of workers have reduced their working hours by 10%. That is double the rate recorded a year earlier.

Restaurant job

At the same time, millions of workers are still out of the workforce, including older Americans who have retreated from the working world, as well as parents who continue to grapple with childcare. . Demographic changes are also impacting the labor market, such as reduced immigration during the pandemic. That makes it harder for some employers than others.

“When you talk about leaving jobs and where they are, a lot of ‘great resignations’ are happening in these low paying jobs,” says Emsi Burning Glass,’ Hetrick said. “One of the biggest drivers of job openings is restaurants.”

However, he added, “We continue to monitor our workforce participation rates not recovering month after month.”

About 823,000 people quit their jobs in the food service and accommodation sectors in December, Tuesday’s report said. That means about 6.1% of workers at hotels, restaurants and bars quit in that one month, the highest rate of any industry the report tracks.

“Nearly enough people”

At the same time, that sector had more than 1.5 million jobs for the month, or the third-highest number of “want to help” ads after professional and corporate services as well as health and wellness services. social, each service seeks about 1.9 million workers. .

In terms of the labor economy as a whole, Vankudre says, “There are about 58 people for every 100 jobs. There aren’t nearly enough people to do all that work.”

The nation’s workforce has not recovered to pre-pandemic size, despite strong economic growth and higher wages as employers look to find work. But many workers are simply unable to return to work due to the COVID-19 infection – with a record 9 million falling ill from the disease in early January – while others are switching careers or start their own business.

The economists note that higher wages are also attracting workers to switch jobs. Elise Gould, an economist at the left-leaning think tank Economic Policy Institute, tweeted of industries hiring new workers at rates higher than the turnover rate in every industry — a signal that workers who quit in December have moved to other jobs.

Meanwhile, layoffs are at their lowest level since the Labor Department began tracking data in 2000. Businesses laid off 1.2 million workers in December, a low, according to the report. fox.

“Nobody gets rid of the employees they have,” says Vankudre.

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