On Tuesday, March 29, 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its February Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary. Notably, the number of quits—defined by the BLS as a “voluntary separation initiated by the employee”—increased to around 4.35 million recorded in February, up from around 4.25 million in January. Experts typically use “quits” as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to leave jobs.
This upward trend comes after the year 2021 saw record quit rates. In particular, around 4.5 million workers left their jobs in November 2021. In February’s report, many industries, including retail trade, durable goods manufacturing, and state and local government education, saw significant increases from January’s numbers. In contrast, the finance and insurance segment saw a notable decrease in quits.
Other key takeaways from the report include a relatively unchanged quit rate, despite the increase in total quits. Additionally, February saw 6.7 million hires, an increase of 263,000 from January. However, the number of job openings remained relatively unchanged, with around 11.3 million open positions.
Employer Takeaway – This increase in quits indicates that the demand for workers remains high, and employers continue to face challenges retaining employees at the start of the year. Various factors influence this high quit rate. Many workers are leaving their jobs for advantages including improved compensation, benefits or workplace flexibility, such as positions that allow remote work. Additionally, safety concerns have remained for many workers amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While COVID-19 cases trended down in February, the coronavirus Omicron variant and its subvariant BA.2 continue to persist.
These labor challenges are largely expected to continue into 2022 in today’s worker-friendly employment market. Employers should continue to monitor employment trends to stay informed on the ever-changing labor market.
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