The Corner

More People Are Quitting Their Jobs! But There’s Work Left To Do

The Bureau of Labor Statistics yesterday released data on — among other things — the number of job openings and the number of workers of voluntarily quit their jobs, both for September.

Two quick thoughts. It is apparent that the rate of quits — the number of quits during a month as a percent of total employment — is trending upward. This is likely a very good thing, as workers will likely only quit their jobs voluntarily if they feel confident that they can quickly find new jobs. And the number of job openings is helpful because we can use it to construct a measure of the number of unemployed workers seeking a job for every job opening. That ratio is now around two — there are roughly two job seekers for every job opening — down from nearly seven during the darkest days of the Great Recession.

So good news on both fronts. But let’s not get too excited: The quits rate is still lower than we would like it to be in a healthier labor market, and the number of job seekers per job opening still higher. The labor market recovery remains unfinished, judged both by these and other measures. (See a recent column of mine for more information.)

Despite undeniable improvements, let’s hope jobs are a priority for the new Congress.

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— Michael R. Strain is a resident scholar and economist at the American Enterprise Institute. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MichaelRStrain.

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