Our stunningly steady jobs recovery, in one chart
More people are quitting their jobs, and there are more open jobs than any time since 2008, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), showed that in November, the number of quits increased from 2.38 million to 2.4 million, and the number of job openings rose slightly from 3.9 million to 4 million.
Calculated Risk’s Bill McBride charts each data point JOLTs measures and concludes that while the changes from October to November were slight, “the general trend suggests a gradually improving labor market. It is a good sign that job openings are at the highest level since 2008.”
An increasing willingness of employees to quit their jobs is taken as a sign of strength in the labor market. As Paul Krugman put it, quits are a gauge of workers’ fear. 538’s Ben Casselman points out that while seasonally adjusted quits have been slow to increase for much of the recovery, they are now picking up pace. Not only do rising levels of quits tend to mean people think they’ll be able to find a new job, but that that new jobs will be better — in pay, benefits, or satisfaction — which is doubly good for the economy.
Overall, the data that should be trending up — job openings, hires, and quits — have been trending up, but at a slow rate. And none of these metrics are back to pre-recession highs.