Job openings in the U.S. approached record levels in October while the number of people quitting eased off its record pace but remained historically high, the Labor Department said Wednesday.
The developments provided further evidence of a labor market that has shifted decidedly in favor of workers.
Employers posted 11 million job openings, up from 10.4 million the previous month and just below July’s record clip. Openings have topped 10 million for five straight months.
The number of quits fell from 4.4 million to 4.2 million, meaning 2.8% of workers voluntarily left their positions, typically to take another job. Before the pandemic, quits hovered at about 3.5 million.
Since there were 7.4 million unemployed Americans in October, that means there were 1.5 available jobs for each unemployed person, the most on record dating back two decades.
The number of hires dipped to 6.5 million, highlighting that employers continue to struggle to fill an unprecedented number of vacancies.
Job openings rose by 251,000 to a total 1.8 million in leisure and hospitality, mostly in restaurants and hotels; by 61,000 to 1 million in manufacturing; by 56,000 to 410,000 in construction; by 59,000 to 2 million in education and health services; and by 35,000 to 1.8 million in professional and business services.
Openings fell by 74,000 to 914,000 in government; by 24,000 to 2 million in trade, transportation and utilities; and by 18,000 to 1 million in retail.
Overall, the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey underscores that in this job market, workers hold all the cards.
Consumer demand is strong as the economy continues to surge back from last year’s pandemic-induced recession and government shutdowns.
Meanwhile, many Americans still aren’t available for work and that has pushed job openings near all-time highs. Some people, especially mothers, are still caring for young children because they can’t find or afford child care. Others are afraid of contracting COVID-19, especially with new variants like omicron emerging.
And many Americans can put off their return to the work force because they’re still living off government stimulus checks or generous unemployment benefits parceled out earlier in the health crisis.
The worker shortages aren’t set to resolve quickly. Most of the 5 million people who have left the labor force since the start of the pandemic are over 55 and have retired – early or naturally, Goldman Sachs says.
Many employers, in turn, are boosting wages and offering signing bonuses and other perks to entice existing workers to make a switch.
Workers are bolting in record numbers to take advantage of the abundance of job openings and higher pay.
Other reasons workers are quitting:
Fifty-four percent of workers surveyed by ZipRecruiter in September said they preferred a job that let them work from home. Only about 10% of jobs offer that option, though that’s up from 3% before the pandemic, ZipRecruiter Chief Economist Julia Pollak says.
Many employees, in turn, are leaving jobs that require them to work in offices, says Jim McCoy, senior vice president of talent solutions at ManpowerGroup.
That could eventually prod more companies to allow remote work, Pollak says.
Upset with COVID-19 work experience
Nineteen percent of workers said they’re unhappy with how employers treated them during the pandemic. This could include those who burned out after being forced to work long hours while colleagues were out or are in stressful industries such as health care.
Twenty percent of workers surveyed by Joblist quit jobs to pursue new career paths, and their passions.
Many restaurant and retail workers, in particular, grew weary of the low pay and health risks that came with their jobs. I
About 25% of hospitality workers surveyed by Joblist said they wouldn’t want to work in the industry again.
And 20% of all workers say the pandemic caused them to change the kind of role they were seeking to one that permitted remote work, a ZipRecruiter survey shows.
Thirteen percent of workers quit because their jobs didn’t provide work-life balance, the Joblist poll reveals.
Starting their own business
One-third of workers quit jobs to launch businesses, a Digital.com survey shows.