Americans quit their jobs at an unprecedented rate in April, with the heaviest bout of quitting hitting restaurants and hotels.
Nearly four million Americans voluntarily left their jobs in April, the highest monthly figure ever recorded in data going back to the turn of the century. On a seasonally adjusted basis, 3.952 million Americans quit. Unadjusted, 4.023 million quit. Prior to this year, the long-term seasonally adjusted average was 2.6 million monthly quits.
For the private sector, a seasonally adjusted 3.76 million American quit in April, also a record high. That means 3.1 percent of workers left their jobs, another record high.
The ratio of quits to hires also hit a record high in the month, indicating a lot of strain on businesses trying to hire new workers and keep existing ones.
The leisure and hospitality sector saw a record 741,000 quits, including a record 681,000 from hotels and restaurants. That puts the hotel and restaurant quit rate at 5.6 percent. Those numbers are deflated by seasonal adjustments. On an unadjusted basis, 732,000 quit restaurant and hotel jobs, a 6 percent rate.
Quits were also high in retail trade. These rose to a seasonally adjusted 649,000, a quit rate of 4.3 percent. Both are record highs.
Office workers also walked. Professional and business services saw 707,000 quits, or 3.4 percent.
Rising quits is usually a signal that employees feel relatively confident about their job prospects, a bullish sign for the economy.
And the 2.7% quits rate is equally remarkable—a sign that workers who were sheltering in place in their old jobs during the Covid turmoil are now feeling confident enough to make the leap to better opportunities.
— Julia Pollak (@juliaonjobs) June 8, 2021
The extraordinarily high level of quits in April, however, may be also signal that the stimulus checks sent out in March and April prompted some workers to take time off from working altogether.
A large number of Americans exited the labor force altogether in the pandemic and only half have returned. Three rounds of stimulus payments, suspended student loans, bans on evictions, and generous unemployment benefits which average over $600 per week have allowed many Americans to live comfortably without work. In fact, incomes have risen during the pandemic thanks to so many government payments.
Job openings hit a record high 9.3 million in April, although the pace of hiring did not pick up much from March’s pace of around 6 million. That too is indicative of the difficulty businesses are having attracting workers.
Restaurants and hotels posted nearly 1.338 million openings and hired 1.247 million.