The Labor Department has released its job openings and worker quits data for December, showing vacancies edging up to nearly 11 million while capping a year that set new records for the number of openings and the number of American workers quitting their jobs amid the “Great Resignation.”
In its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), the Labor Department reported that job openings, which are a measure of labor demand, rose by 150,000 to 10.925 million on the last day of December. While lower than the record-high of 11.098 million vacancies recorded in July, it’s a historically elevated reading that suggests U.S. employers stepped up their search for workers at the end of the year despite the Omicron surge.
The release of December’s vacancies numbers also confirmed that 2021 was the biggest year or record for job openings in the United States, with a total of 116.9 million, or a monthly average of around 9.75 million. In pre-pandemic 2019, that average was around 7 million per month.
The JOLTS report also showed that in December, 4.3 million U.S. workers quit their jobs, down from a monthly record high of 4.5 million in November. The release also confirmed that 2021 was record-setting for the total number of voluntary quits, at 47.4 million.
The so-called quits rate, which reflects the number of voluntary separations and is a barometer of worker confidence in being able to find a better job, inched down to 2.9 percent in December from a record-high 3.0 percent in September and November.
Hiring fell 333,000 to 6.3 million, the JOLTS report also showed, with the decline most pronounced in professional and business services, where hiring fell by 159,000 jobs. The hiring rate was little changed in December at 4.2 percent.
“While hires and quits both fell with the rise in Omicron in Dec, the hires rate remains higher than the quits rate in every major industry,” Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, said on Twitter. “This indicates that when workers quit, they are taking other jobs-likely in the same sector-not dropping out of the labor force altogether.”
The government reported last month that U.S. employers added 199,000 jobs in December, the fewest in a year. Economists are expecting that businesses and other employers added just 165,000 jobs in January, according to data provider FactSet.
Generally, economists expect hiring to pick up in February as Omicron fades and as Americans resume normal activity.
From The Epoch Times