When the Omicron surge began, Americans gave up their jobs against near-record numbers

The so-called “Great Resignation” is turning into a sticky situation for the US economy, with new data showing that by the end of 2021, workers will continue to retire at near-record rates. December, workers continued to change jobs or take time off work – leaving employers scrambling to hire.

About 4.3 million people resigned in December, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That’s a little less of November, when a monthly high of all times of 4.5 million Americans leave their jobs,

The redundancies hit a historic low in December as employers retained their current staff amid struggles to hire new employees.

Employers hoping for relief are unlikely to see it soon, according to senior economists Ron Hetrick and Rucha Vankudre at Emsi Burning Glass. The competition for low-wage workers in industries such as restaurants and childcare is particularly fierce, but there are not enough applicants to fill the open jobs in those fields. At the same time, millions of workers remain out of work, including older Americans returning from the world of work, as well as parents who continue to struggle with childcare.

“When you talk about quitting and where they are, a lot of this ‘Big Dismissal’ occurs in these low-paying jobs,” Hetrick said. “One of the biggest drivers of job openings are restaurants.”

But, he added, “We continue to see how our labor force participation rate does not recover month after month.”

Some 823,000 people will leave their jobs in the accommodation and food sector in December, the Tuesday report said. This means that about 6.1% of workers stay in hotels, restaurants and bars in a single month, the highest rate of any sector followed by the report.

“Not enough people”

At the same time, that sector had more than 1.5 million jobs open a month, or the third-highest number of “help wanted” ads for professional and business services and health care and social services, each about 1.9 million workers sought. .

Overall in the job economy, Vankudre said: “There are about 58 people for every 100 job openings. There are not that few people enough to take care of all those jobs.”

The nation’s workforce has not returned to its pre-pandemic size, despite robust economic growth and higher wages offered by employers eager to fill vacancies. But many workers just can not return to work due to COVID-19 infections – with a record 9 million people from sick of the disease beginning in January – while others change careers or start their own businesses.

Higher wages also attract workers to change jobs, economists noted. Industries hired new workers at higher rates than the quits rate in each industry – a signal that workers who quit in December went to other jobs, tweeted Elise Gould, an economist at the left-wing think tank Economic Policy Institute.

Meanwhile, layoffs have been at their lowest since the Labor Department began tracking data in 2000. Companies laid off 1.2 million workers in December, a series low, according to the report.

“No one makes the employees they have lost,” Vankudre said.

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