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Year-End Employee Quits Remained Near Record High

A person writing the word quit on a calendar.

​The phenomenon called the Great Resignation continued in December 2021, as 4.3 million U.S. workers quit their jobs. That's slightly down from the record 4.5 million in November and continues a monthslong streak of historically elevated churn, according to the monthly JOLTS report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Quitting has been especially high in health care, hospitality and construction, as well as low-wage sectors in general, where workers have been leaving their positions partly in response to increased opportunities in the labor market as job openings strongly outnumber those looking for work. There were 10.9 million job openings posted on the last day of December, far more than the roughly 6.3 million people counted as unemployed.

"Overall, 2021 saw a historic surge in workers voluntarily leaving their jobs as the quits rate reached higher and higher peaks," said Nick Bunker, director of research at the Indeed Hiring Lab. "More and more people left their jobs to find greener pastures as strong demand for workers resulted in a job switching boom. The result was wages growing at a rate the U.S. labor market hasn’t seen in well over a decade."

Bunker added that the report suggests that the latest wave of the pandemic brought on by the omicron variant didn’t fully hit the labor market in December. "Demand for workers, as measured by job openings, remained robust and layoffs hit a new all-time low. But while the data suggest no major impact in December, the outlook for January is less optimistic."

We've rounded up articles from SHRM Online to provide more context on the news.

Why Are Workers Leaving Their Jobs?

Many factors have led to the record-breaking number of people quitting, including ongoing health concerns, desire for more flexibility and switching jobs to take advantage of the strong candidate's market.

(SHRM Online)

How to Ride the Great Resignation Wave

How can HR professionals prepare for the expected surge of voluntary employee departures in 2022?

(SHRM Online)

State by State: Hires, Quits, Job Openings and Unemployment

These maps show the geography of the Great Resignation—where workers are quitting, getting hired and remaining unemployed, according to the latest data.

(SHRM Online)

How Historic Has the Great Resignation Been?

The Great Resignation continues along an historic path among all previously reported years of quits data reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In December, another 4.3 million workers—about 3 percent of the workforce—quit their jobs.

(SHRM Online)


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