BLS Reports U.S. Quits Rate at 2 Percent

By Roy Maurer Jan 12, 2016

Hires and separations were little changed and the quits rate remained at 2.0 percent in November 2015, according to the latest report on job openings and turnover from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The number of quits has held between 2.7 million and 2.8 million for the past 15 months. While the quits rate is unchanged from when the Great Recession began at the end of 2007, about 2.83 million people left their jobs in November—the most since April 2008—up from 2.78 million the month before. Quits rose in construction, manufacturing, retail and hospitality, among other sectors.

“The quits rate is an indicator of interest to HR professionals as it helps them to forecast increased turnover,” said Jennifer Schramm, SHRM-SCP, manager of workforce trends at the Society for Human Resource Management. “This is another good sign for the job market as it shows people are growing more confident about their ability to secure a new and better job. A rising quits rate also means HR professionals may need to turn more attention to retention efforts.”

“The ratio of people who quit their jobs vs. those who were fired is higher than in previous months,” said Lauren Griffin, senior vice president at Adecco Staffing USA, a recruitment and staffing firm headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla. Griffin said she has seen an increasing trend of employees looking to pursue new career opportunities over the past 12 months, specifically for jobs in the accommodation and food services industry and the educational services industry.

Approximately 5.4 million jobs became available in November 2015. Job openings increased since October in health care and social assistance (+57,000) and decreased in retail trade (-64,000).

Job openings rose in several industries over the year ending in November, with the largest changes in health care and social assistance (+242,000) and accommodation and food services (+129,000). Job openings decreased over the year in information (-48,000) and mining and logging (-8,000).

About 5.2 million people found new jobs in November. At the industry level, hires increased over the last 12 months in accommodation and food services (+104,000) and educational services (+18,000).

“Employers across these verticals are eager to hire and fill these current job openings but may be holding out for the ‘perfect candidate,’ ” Griffin said. “In 2016, it is important for prospective candidates to emphasize their adaptability and flexibility while interviewing to showcase their eagerness to learn and grow within the organization.”

Total separations for the month of November—including quits, layoffs and discharges—hovered at 4.9 million. There were 1.7 million layoffs and discharges in November, little changed from October. There were 409,000 additional separations reported due to retirement, death and disability, and company transfers.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM. Follow him @SHRMRoy


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