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4.3 Million Workers Quit in August, The Highest Number Since December 2000

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In spite of the rumblings of a recession, American workers are quitting their jobs in record numbers, according to a recent Department of Labor Job Openings and Labor Turnovers Survey (JOLTS) report.

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Workers in the food and retail industries led the pack, but across the board, 4.3 million employees quit in August. That’s the highest number of quits since December 2000, CNBC.com said.

Quit rates were highest in the foodservice and accommodation industries, with 892,000 workers leaving their jobs. Meanwhile, 721,000 people quit retail jobs and 534,000 left healthcare or social assistance-related positions.

While quits indicate employees’ confidence in finding another job, available openings lagged behind expectations. Vacancies fell to 10.44 million in August, far short of the expected 10.96 million openings in the month, CNBC.com reported.

The hiring rate fell from 4.6% to 4.3%, largely driven by a decrease in hires in the leisure and hospitality industries. The hiring rate in the leisure market dropped from 9.5% in July to 7.9% in August, according to JOLTS data. It could jump up this month, however, as many companies in retail and hospitality are looking for seasonal help, and even offering sign-on bonuses to qualified employees, CNN.com reported.

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The Federal Reserve has stated it will not increase interest rates until the labor market firms up, according to CNBC.com, but the Fed does plan to begin tapering bond purchases by the end of the year.

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