The number of people who are unemployed because they quit their jobs is at its highest point of the pandemic

Now Hiring sign
A customer walks by a now hiring sign at a BevMo store on April 02, 2021 in Larkspur, California.

  • In June, 942,000 people were unemployed because they voluntarily quit, a pandemic-era high.
  • It reflects labor-market tightness, which is strange when 9.5 million are out of work.
  • Wages also ticked up in June, although they still remain relatively low for leisure and hospitality workers.
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While the number of jobs added in June trounced expectations, another measure also paradoxically ticked up: More unemployed people said their reason for being jobless was quitting than any other month of the pandemic.

In June, 164,000 more unemployed people quit or voluntarily left their jobs, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, bringing the total number of so-called job leavers to 942,000 for the month. That latter figure is a new pandemic-era high for people who quit and remain unemployed.

It continues a trend of elevated quits throughout the last couple of months, showcasing that while recovery may be on the horizon, the labor market is still pretty weird.

Job vacancies reached record highs in April, according to BLS, a month when the total number of Americans leaving their positions hit a 20-year record: 4 million Americans quit their jobs that month. That data includes people who quit and found new jobs.

The number of people quitting might show that workers are still choosier about their jobs and work, especially as employers vie to lure them in with everything for $50 to show up for an interview to hiring bonuses. The number of quits also comes as 26 states move to end their participation in federal unemployment benefits, a measure that many governors explicitly implemented to compel workers back into the workforce.

Some workers had been “rage quitting” their positions during the pandemic amidst poor working conditions and low wages, Insider’s Áine Cain previously reported.

Wages also ticked up in June, potentially indicating that employers are being forced to increase wages to lure in and retain workers. The average hourly earnings for all workers rose by 10 cents to $30.40 in June, following increases in April and May; in fact, the jump between April and May marked the fastest rate of wage growth since 1983 (excluding a 2020 lockdown-driven spike).

For instance, leisure and hospitality made up a large chunk of gains in June, adding 343,000 jobs. That industry has seen consistent strong wage growth over the last few months, and just hit $16.21 in hourly earnings. It’s also an industry that saw elevated quits in April, before wages climbed up even higher. That could support claims that raising wages across the board might be one solution for bringing workers back.

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