A record-breaking 4.3 million Americans — 2.9 percent of the workforce — quit their jobs in August, according to the latest data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Experts attribute it to workers demanding higher pay, better employment conditions and critical support in their daily lives.
By comparison, 242,000 workers quit their jobs across the U.S. in July 2021. In the 11-month period from Sept. 1, 2020 to July 31, 2021, 1.3 million people quit jobs compared to 4.3 million in August 2021.
The nationwide quit rate in August represents the highest percentage ever reported by the Department of Labor’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey series.
At least one in four people quit their job so far in 2021, according to data from the people analytics firm Visier, and that share could grow before the end of 2021. A PwC survey indicates that 65 percent of people were looking for a new job as of August.
“There is no ‘labor shortage.’ There’s a child care shortage, a living-wage shortage, a hazard pay shortage, a paid sick leave shortage, and a healthcare shortage,” tweeted Robert Reich, UC Berkeley professor of public policy and former U.S. Secretary of Labor. “Until these shortages are remedied, Americans won’t return to work anytime soon.”
Workers are also looking for more flexible jobs that are easier to help achieve a better work-life balance, experts say.
There has been a significant increase in demand for remote positions since the beginning of the pandemic with more than half of surveyed job seekers on ZipRecruiter saying they are looking to work from home.
“That’s a staggering number because typically only about 10 percent of jobs offer that opportunity,” said Julia Pollak, the chief economist at ZipRecruiter, in a USA Today report. “Only about 37 percent of jobs in the U.S. could theoretically be done from home.”
The August jobs report fell far short of economists’ already-reduced expectations. Predictions had been revised down to 728,000 from 750,000 earlier after the ADP Employment Report, which counts private payrolls, also disappointed.
Jobs numbers had picked up after covid-19 vaccines started being administered across the U.S. in December, but the resurgence of infections due to the mutant delta variant threatened the labor market recovery.
The delta variant hit the leisure and hospitality industry, which led job gains during much of the recovery after being hit hard during lockdowns. The industry was not among the top hirers in August.
“Delta is reducing consumer demand and threatening the reopening,” Glassdoor Senior Economist Daniel Zhao told CNN Business. “Ultimately it’s just a harsh reminder that the pandemic has control of our destiny.”
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