American Workers Quit Jobs in Record Numbers in November 2021

by Victoria Santiago

An astounding 4.5 million American workers quit their jobs in November of 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Over the last year or so, the number of people leaving their jobs has increased dramatically, leading to what some are calling the “Great Resignation” or the “Big Quit.”

So many people leaving their jobs is a sign of growing confidence in the U.S. job market. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the job market took a hit. With these numbers, it’s clear that we’re stabilizing and getting back on track. We’re also seeing a high number of job openings and hirings. Also in November, employers posted a total of 10.6 million job openings. This is a little bit lower than the number of job openings posted in October but is still remarkably high. 11.1 million job openings were posted in October. The number of hirings increased from October, from 6.5 million to 6.7 million. These statistics come from the Department of Labor’s Jobs Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.

Some industries have a higher amount of people quitting than others. This tends to be in industries with lower wages. For example, the hotel and service industries are both experiencing a large amount of quitting. This puts all of the power into the hands of workers, which could lead to wage increases. Similar wage increases have happened in 2021 for the same reason, so it’s very possible that pay will continue to increase in 2022.

Workers Are Still Rebounding from 2020’s COVID-19 Lockdown

All of this is to say that we’re slowly getting back to normal after recovering from the effects of coronavirus. At the height of the pandemic in 2020, more than 22 million jobs were done away with. The recession didn’t last long but was quite intense. Government lockdowns, reduced business hours, closed businesses and staying at home all impacted the job market and economy. The unemployment rate hit 14.8%.

Thankfully, a few things have happened since then that have gotten us back on our feet. Increased government spending and the creation of COVID-19 vaccines have helped many industries reopen. Since April of 2020, 18.5 million jobs have been added. We haven’t quite met pre-pandemic numbers yet, but we’re close. Before the coronavirus pandemic, we had a mere 3.9 million more jobs than we do now. As of right now, the unemployment rate has fallen back down to 4.2%, which can be considered normal. This is considered to be “full employment.”

However, this promising worker data was released before we began experiencing issues with the newest strain of COVID-19. “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,” said Nick Bunker, research director at the Indeed Hiring Lab. The December 2021 Jobs Openings and Labor Turnover Survey will be released this Friday, January 7th. We’re expecting to see that another 393,000 jobs were created.