March 2, 2021

Economix Blog: Fewer Americans Quitting Jobs, U.S. Survey Shows

With so much uncertainty about the economy, Americans appear reluctant to quit their jobs, a new Labor Department report shows.



Dollars to doughnuts.

Each month the Labor Department releases a number called the “quits rate,” which is the total number of voluntary separations by employees, as a percent of all employment. When the economy is good, the rate tends to be higher, since workers know they have opportunities elsewhere if they don’t like their current jobs.

As you might imagine, the quits rate fell drastically during the recession and even during the early part of the recovery. In December 2007, the month the downturn officially started, the quits rate was 2 percent. By January 2010, it had fallen to about half that, at 1.1 percent.

DESCRIPTIONSource: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The rate has risen slightly since then. As of July, it was 1.5 percent, where it’s been for several months. But that is still well below healthy levels.

In case there’s any doubt, the quits rate hasn’t stagnated because employed Americans are happier at their jobs. A recent Gallup survey suggested that, if anything, workers are more dissatisfied with many aspects of their jobs now than they were in August 2008.

People are reluctant to quit because employers aren’t hiring. And unfortunately, part of the reason that employers aren’t hiring is that their workers aren’t leaving and creating new openings.

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