The “Great Resignation” just got even greater.
4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November, according to Tuesday data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With a rate of 3%, the quit rate has climbed back to the high in September, marking an all-time high for quits in the U.S.
Accommodation and food services, health care and social assistance, and transportation, warehousing, and utilities saw the most quits in November. The number of people who quit their retail jobs in November was roughly 686,000 at a rate of 4.4%, the same rate of retail quits in October.
In November, retail employment declined by 20,000 jobs across general merchandise stores, clothing accessories stores, and sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As a record number of people quit their jobs, labor shortages are becoming an even bigger problem for retailers who need to keep stores staffed. In general, a reluctance for workers to return to stressful retail jobs with low pay and unreliable hours has led to a major labor shortage across the retail industry. To attract and retain talent, some retailers have introduced increased pay, benefits and sign-on bonuses and have held hiring events to attract enough workers to meet consumer demand.
The recent spike in national COVID-19 cases has also impacted working conditions for retail workers. The U.S. hit a pandemic record on Monday, with over 1 million cases, the Wall Street Journal reported. While many retailers are keeping their stores open, some, like Walmart, have closed some stores temporarily for cleaning. Others, Like Macy’s, have reduced store hours.
Despite the high quit rate, America’s latest weekly report on unemployment benefits showed a near return to pre-pandemic jobless claims, even as the U.S. battles surges of COVID-19. According to Thursday’s report from the Department of Labor, 198,000 Americans filed initial claims for the week ending Dec. 25, a decrease of 8,000 from the previous week’s revised level.
The Labor Department also reported on Thursday that the four-week moving average was 199,250, a decrease of 7,250 from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since Oct. 1969 when it was 199,250, the Labor Department said.