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Record 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs as Great Resignation shows no signs of stopping

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The Great Resignation — the widespread movement by American workers to quit their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic — continues to handicap the United States' economic recovery. A record number of Americans quit their jobs in September, causing job openings to remain at near all-time highs.

A record-high 4.4 million U.S. workers quit their jobs in September, according to the Labor Department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover or JOLTS. This follows the previous high of 4.3 million in August. The "quits rate," or the percent of workers who left their jobs, rose to 3% — also a record.

CNBC reported, "So far, roughly 34.4 million people have quit their jobs this year, with more than 24 million doing so since April. By comparison, 36.3 million people quit their job in all of 2020."

The number of job openings stayed on pace with recent months at 10.4 million, not far off from the all-time high of 10.9 million in July. Job openings increased in health care and social assistance, state and local government excluding education, wholesale trade, and information.

In September, there were seven unemployed workers for every 10 job openings — a record low.

"Hires and total separations were little changed at 6.5 million and 6.2 million, respectively," the report noted.

Nick Bunker, economic research director at Indeed, told The Hill, "The rise of quitting across the labor market is remarkable, but the concentration among a few sectors is eye-popping. Quits are up the most in sectors where most work is in-person or relatively low paying."

Liz Wilke, chief economist at payroll service company Gusto, told CBS News, "People are rethinking their work, and they are sitting on an unprecedented amount of savings — people feel very comfortable that they can find a new job, and that's what we think of when we think of a strong labor market."

ZipRecruiter chief economist Julia Pollak told CNBC that turnover is a major factor for businesses, "Employers are basically having to replace their entire staff in just a couple of months. It's really quite dramatic."

Pollak adds that the historic turnover may present tremendous opportunities, "It's an exciting moment for job seekers who are benefiting from employers offering hiring incentives and reducing their requirements."

Ben Ayers, senior economist at Nationwide, predicts that the job market will become enticing to those sitting on the sidelines, "We do expect that higher compensation and plentiful openings will draw more workers to reenter the labor force in coming months, helping to ease the tight labor market somewhat. But as the unemployment rate approaches pre-Covid levels next year and is expected to drop further beyond that, the labor market could remain relatively tight throughout the current expansion."

Goldman Sachs analysts warned that the Great Resignation shows no signs of stopping, "Labor supply drags from COVID concerns appear sizeable and will likely linger in the medium-term, since it may take some time for some people to feel comfortable returning to work."

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