Some 3.56 million workers left positions in May, the most since 2000.
US workers are quitting at the fastest rate since the internet boom 17 years ago, reports The Wall Street Journal, thanks to a strong economy and record-low unemployment. On the other hand the U.S. simply doesn’t have enough people to keep its economy growing.
As American society increasingly self-sorts itself into political tribes, there’s a growing and noteworthy exception to that trend: the labor market. A rising share of job growth is going to people who were not in the labor force. This climate forces employers to set aside historical practices and biases that may have excluded certain types of people from jobs.
For example, employers are getting more creative to attract and retain talent. Some relax dress codes, make scheduling more employee-friendly, or increase benefits like paid time off or continuing education. Others increase pay.
But now, the labor market situation is more perplexing after 3.4 million people (in April) chose to leave their jobs, according to Labor Department figures — double the 1.7 million who were laid off. Job-hopping also tends to lead to better pay. Those who switched got a roughly 30% bigger annual pay boost in May than those who stayed in their jobs over the past year, per the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
Some 3.56 million workers left positions in May, the most since 2000, and up from the prior month’s 3.35 million, Labor Department data showed. That pushed up the quits rate, which measures quitters as a share of employed people, to a 17-year high of 2.4 percent from 2.3 percent. With more workers feeling assured of finding better employment, sustained wage gains may soon follow.
The latest jump is sure to be closely watched by Federal Reserve policy makers as they monitor for signs of upward pressure on worker pay that may feed overall inflation. In another bullish sign, the gap between vacancies and the number of unemployed widened to 573,000 in May, a sign there’s potentially work available for every jobless person in America.