In August, approximately 4.3 million people (nearly 3 percent) in the United States quit their jobs, setting a new record for the number of people quitting within one month. (The previous record was set in April of this year.) Turns out after living through 18 months of a global pandemic where over 700,000 people have died, many are less willing to endure subpar working conditions for low pay. Personally, I’ve gladly embraced my role as the little devil sitting on my friends’ shoulders who regularly reminds them that it’s okay to quit their shitty jobs.
The recent increase in the number of people quitting their jobs is part of the reason there are so many job openings right now. At the end of August, there were 10.4 million job openings in the U.S.—not quite as high as the record-breaking 11.1 million job openings in July, but still higher than the number of unemployed workers. Despite initial assumptions that this workforce exodus was concentrated among higher-income workers, data suggests that people are quitting across a variety of industries. Of the workers who quit their jobs in August, about 892,000 worked in restaurants, bars, and hotels, 721,000 worked in retail, 706,000 worked in professional business services, and 534,000 worked in healthcare and social assistance.
This development also comes during a moment where people across a variety of industries are organizing their workplaces in order to fight for higher pay, better benefits, and improved working conditions. Last week, nearly 99 percent of the 150,000 or so members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees—the union that represents crew members in the film and television industries in the U.S. and Canada—voted to authorize a strike. On Monday, unions representing the nurses and other healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente announced that over 24,000 of their members had also voted to authorize a strike.
“This really elevated rate of people quitting their job is a sign that workers have lots of confidence and they have relatively stronger bargaining positions than they’ve had in the past,” Indeed economist Nick Bunker told The Post. “There’s lots of demand, and people are seizing that opportunity and quitting their job.”