- The “take this job and shove it” indicator is high due to lack of childcare, covid fears, and migration.
- DataTrek looks at how many job separations come from quitting, and told Insider “employers are not raising wages enough.”
- But it may come down soon as schools reopen and more people reenter the labor force.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
In May 2021, workers were still quitting their jobs in droves – yet another strange facet of the slowly recovering economy.
According to recently released data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 3.6 million workers quit their jobs in May, a month when there was one available worker for every job open (and there were 9.2 million jobs open). In April, the quit number was a record-breaking 4 million.
DataTrek Research has its own tracker for how many of the job separations in a month were from quits – the “take this job and shove it” indicator. That indicator reached its second-highest rate recorded in May 2021, with 67.8% of job separations driven by quits.
This number was higher in the particularly quit-heavy leisure and hospitality industry, Axios first reported; it came in at 76.4%.
The number is still slightly lower than April’s record-breaking high of 68.8%. Jessica Rabe, DataTrek’s cofounder, told Insider that quits are still driven by reduced access to childcare and fears of infection. Also significant: Workers relocating to the suburbs from urban centers.
But quits – and the “take this job and shove it” indicator – may have peaked in April. Schools are set to reopen in the coming months and enhanced unemployment benefits ending could get more people back in the labor force.
“We think the bulk of people disenfranchised by their jobs have quit by now, given this difficult nature of the pandemic over the last year,” Rabe said. “We think the only caveat is if the Delta variant or others do take off and we get another raft of workers in customer service jobs quitting their jobs again, even with higher wages, but it won’t likely be as big as the first wave.”
Yes, wages are on the rise
That reading comes as leisure and hospitality workers say they’re not going to return to their previous positions. Insider’s Grace Dean reports that a third of hospitality workers said in a Joblist survey that they won’t ever return to the industry.
Those respondents want a new work experience, along with higher wages and better benefits. That’s not to say that leisure and hospitality isn’t growing: The sector made up 40% of jobs gains in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and added 343,000 payrolls. Wages also grew for leisure and hospitality workers at a breakneck speed, soaring 7.1% in the past year.
Even so, the quits rate in leisure and hospitality was 5.3% in May. That could be due to those wage hikes raising low wages to just slightly less low. In June, the average hourly earning for nonsupervisory private employees was $25.68. It was nearly $10 lower for leisure and hospitality workers, coming in at $16.21.
Those conflicting numbers show a strange new pandemic trend: High unemployment, coupled with high job openings. Generally, unemployment is driven down as job openings go up – since people are presumably filling those roles. That doesn’t seem to be happening here.
“The large labor shortage and elevated quits rate also shows employers are not raising wages enough,” Rabe said, “which is constraining hiring.”