A record 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November while openings remained elevated, highlighting persistent churn in the labor market.
The increase in departures was broad across industries and pushed the quits rate up to 3%, matching the most in data back to 2000. Meanwhile, the number of available positions fell to 10.6 million from an upwardly revised 11.1 million in October, the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, showed.
The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a rise to 11.1 million job openings. While the drop was the largest since April 2020, vacancies remain well above pre-pandemic levels.
The unprecedented level of quits — including a record 1 million in leisure and hospitality alone — suggests a lingering struggle for employers to retain talent. Meanwhile, the month’s increase in hiring showed companies were able to make at least some headway filling vacancies.
The data come ahead of Friday’s monthly employment report from the Labor Department, which is currently forecast to show that the US added 420,000 jobs in December.
The JOLTS report reflected unprecedented quits in accommodation and food services, while the transportation and warehousing industry registered the second-most resignations on record. Quits also rose notably in health care.