Report Shows Record Number of Job Departures in August

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Workers are quitting in droves in search of better conditions.

Working in the middle of a pandemic sparked a realization in much of the United States labor force: their services were undervalued or underutilized, and they could do better elsewhere. It’s for this reason that millions of workers have left their jobs over the past year in search of better career opportunities. While the market adds more jobs, it is still firmly in the workers’ favor.

According to a report compiled by the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, about 2.9% of the total US workforce quit their jobs in August, which accounts for roughly 4.3 million people. That’s a .2% increase over July’s job departures, about a 242,000 person difference.

“If you’re unhappy with your job or want a raise, in the current environment it’s pretty easy to find a new one,” Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC, told CNN. “We’re seeing people vote with their feet.”

At the end of August, there were approximately 10.4 million job openings in the United States. However, many of the workers who left their jobs did so out of protest of low wages, poor conditions, and general inflexibility given the uncertain state of the world caused by the pandemic. A large portion of the departures came from workers in the food service and accommodation industries.

“The American worker is now confident that he or she has the bargaining power and can obtain a reasonable wage — and have influence over the shape of working conditions,” said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM, noting that the economy may be entering a “golden age for the American worker.”

“This is what happens after great wars or depressions,” Brusuelas said. “It’s hard to spot while you’re in it, but we’ve gone through a shock that has elicited an unexpected change upon the population. And it will take some time to sort through.”

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