What recession? The Great Resignation rages on with 4.3 million Americans quitting in May amid a still-hot job market

What recession? The Great Resignation rages on with 4.3 million Americans quitting in May amid a still-hot job market
4.3 million American workers quit in May, according to Wednesday's data release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.skynesher/Getty Images
  • Americans are still quitting at a high level even though fears of a recession loom.
  • 4.3 million Americans quit in May, according to Wednesday's data release.

Even as Americans brace for an economic slowdown, they're still job hopping like it's 2021.

In May, 4.3 million Americans quit, according to the latest data release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means that 2.8% of the workforce walked out on their jobs, most likely to take up a new one. Hiring stayed robust, with 6.5 million workers getting an offer letter.

Job openings dipped a little to 11.3 million — a 427,000 decrease from the month before — but businesses are still hiring.

"Even if the job market is cooling from white hot to red hot, it's still hot," Daniel Zhao, senior economist and data scientist at Glassdoor, wrote on Twitter about the latest job openings figure.

The millions of workers quitting seem to know that the labor market is still considered hot — even with talks of a recession. After a year of quitting at near-record highs, workers are still able to job switch into new roles, and businesses are ready to hire them. Many Americans want more money — or better conditions — out of work, especially as prices continue to stay high.


"Workers don't think there is a recession happening. Employers certainly don't either. Workers quit their jobs when there's job opportunities out there for them," Nick Bunker, economic research director at Indeed Hiring Lab, told Insider. He added: "All the data from this report, the quits rate, just point to a labor market that continues to be tight, continues to be hot."

Layoffs and discharges also remained low in May, with 1.4 million Americans getting let go. Of course, that data lags a few months behind, but it shows that fears of mass layoffs aren't necessarily that widespread.

"For all the news and headlines about layoffs, which are happening at firms, you really can't see it in the aggregate data," Bunker said. Before the pandemic, Bunker said, the lowest the layoffs rate ever got was 1.1%. Now, it's been below that for 15 months straight.

Workers in low-paying industries currently facing a busy summer season quit at high levels

"The unfortunate reality is that we've seen workers treated poorly for quite some time," Bunker said.

In May, 857,000 leisure and hospitality workers threw in the towel. In total, 5.5% of the leisure and hospitality workforce quit. Within leisure and hospitality, quits saw a big jump in the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry, with 19,000 more workers leaving in May.


However, Bunker noted that the quits rate in the leisure and hospitality industry overall has been trending down — meaning that demand is still strong, but it's easing up a little bit.

"Employers are feeling perhaps less of a need to poach workers from other jobs," he said.

So, while financial markets look ahead to the future — and flash potential warning signs about a downturn — the current labor is "still very strong," according to Bunker. The layoff rate in the information sector, which does encompass tech companies, did pick up a little bit from 0.9% to 1.0%.

"I think that's an indication that yes, there might be some firms in the tech sector, maybe there is some retrenchment there and some some layoffs," Bunker said, "but they are either very uncommon or very small."

Have you quit your job? Are you happy about it? Do you regret it? We want to hear from you. Contact these reporters at jkaplan@insider.com and mhoff@insider.com.