Americans have been quitting more than ever for half a year - another 4.4 million just left their jobs in September
Great Resignationshows no signs of slowing down, as a record 4.4 million Americans quit in September.
- September marks six straight months of the highest quits on record, dating back to 2000.
For six months, workers have been participating in the hottest trend in the labor market:
It's a trend that's been reshaping the post-vaccine labor market, as wages get pushed higher and workers reshuffle into new positions - and employers are left scrambling to figure out how to readjust to what workers are searching for, rather than the other way around.
The number of Americans quitting their jobs hit another record high in September, according to the latest Job Openings, Layoffs, and Turnover Survey (JOLTS) release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For the last half-year, the number of exits has been higher than at any other time going back to at least December 2000, when the Labor Department started tracking quits numbers.
A full 4.4 million Americans ditched their current employers in September, showing that the Great Resignation is, if anything, gaining steam:
Some economists thought that September might be a silver bullet month for economic and labor market recovery, especially as enhanced unemployment benefits wound down and schools began to reopen. But instead it was another month that showed just how much the pandemic has reshaped the labor market, and how much its impact could linger.
The Delta variant was one wrench in the recovery; the number of jobs added in September still came in below estimates, but weren't as bad as initially reported. Research also continually showed that ending the enhanced benefits had little impact on employment, a trend that seemed to hold strong in September.
But September's record level number of workers quitting also showed that even as some pandemic pressures and measures began to lift, workers weren't going to tolerate the jobs available to them pre-pandemic. While that may not be a new sentiment around lower-wage work, the labor market's unique conditions actually allowed workers to act on that. In September, the number of job openings again exceeded the number of workers looking to fill them.
Of course, it's important to note that wages have remained stagnant for decades. Heidi Shierholz, the president of the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, told Insider in June that wage growth in low-wage industries was still playing catch-up to what pay would've been without a pandemic. She also later warned that high turnover could mean pay cuts later on, and that the amount of leverage workers have is overstated.
But even so, it's been half a year of workers quitting their jobs en masse. That's ultimately a good thing for the labor market. People leaving for better roles means they'll get paid more, and perhaps get to dodge burnout or other factors that mean their current role is not the right fit. Companies will get more productive.
Most importantly of all, people quitting in record-breaking numbers month after month is probably the strongest way to signal to companies it's time to make a change. Organizational psychologist Anthony Klotz - who coined the term Great Resignation - told Insider that companies' responses will be pivotal in deciding if this is a permanently raised level of quitting.
"One hopefully silver lining of this horrible pandemic would be if the world of work transitioned to a more healthy, sustainable place for employee wellbeing," Klotz said.
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