There were about 4.6 million more jobs available in December than people who are unemployed, according to data released Tuesday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The numbers reflect a U.S. economy that is still struggling with a labor shortage from the pandemic but has shown some signs of recovery.
The “quits” rate, which measures workers’ willingness or ability to leave jobs, dipped from 3% to 2.9%. Of the 5.9 million total separations in December, the number of quits was 4.3 million, which suggests a flattening or downward trend in “the great resignation.”
The rate of layoffs or discharges changed little for December at 1.2 million and at a rate of 0.8%.
There were 10.9 million job openings in December, up slightly from 10.8 million in November.
Hiring rates decreased to 6.3 million but the rate changed little at 4.2%.
Throughout 2021, “hires totaled 75.3 million and separations totaled 68.9 million, yielding a net employment gain of 6.4 million,” the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. This includes workers who were hired and let go, voluntarily or not, more than once in 2021.
A study from the University of Michigan found that “career priorities emphasize passion over financial security during the pandemic.” Erin Chech, an associate professor of sociology and lead author of the study, said that the emphasis on passion “suggests that employment instability can spark existential unsettling that leads people to broader senses of meaning-making beyond financial stability,” which led to “the great resignation.”
Eric Schelling, Home Depot’s vice president of global acquisition, told CNN that jobseekers are shopping for the best opportunities.
A record number of 47.4 million quit their jobs in 2021.
Nick Bunker, director of research for the Indeed Hiring Lab, told CNBC that “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.”
He also suggested that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 did not have as much of an impact on the labor market as many initially thought, though hinted at a rough outlook for January.
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