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The ‘Great Resignation' Slowed Down in October, While Job Openings Jumped

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  • Job quitters declined by 4.7%, falling to 4.16 million from 4.36 million, according to the Labor Department.
  • Job openings accelerated to just below their all-time high, totaling 11.03 million, an increase of 4.1% as the rate rose to 6.9% from 6.7%.
  • Economists have used the term "The Great Resignation" to describe the large number of quits in recent months.
A help wanted sign is posted in the window of hardware store on September 16, 2021 in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
A help wanted sign is posted in the window of hardware store on September 16, 2021 in San Francisco, California.

The so-called Great Resignation lost some steam in October, with the total number of workers leaving their jobs either due to dissatisfaction or better opportunities elsewhere declining, the Labor Department reported Wednesday.

Job quitters fell by 4.7%, falling to 4.16 million from 4.36 million, the department said in its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. The rate as a share of the workforce fell from 3% to 2.8%.

The JOLTS report is closely watched at the Federal Reserve and elsewhere for signs of labor market tightness.

While the quits rate dropped, the level of job openings accelerated to just below its all-time high. That number totaled 11.03 million, an increase of 4.1% as the rate rose to 6.9% from 6.7%.

The number of openings exceeded those looking for jobs by 3.6 million in October. JOLTS data runs a month behind the more closely followed nonfarm payrolls report, which showed a gain of 546,000 for the month.

The coronavirus pandemic has seen quits surge to what had been record highs. Even with October's decline, the level is still 24% above where it was a year ago.

Economists generally see the exodus as greater opportunity in the pandemic-era jobs market spurred by many workers still reluctant to come off the sidelines either because of child-care issues or health concerns.

Through November, the labor force was still about 2.4 million smaller than what it had been in February 2020. The total employment level was more than 3.5 million down.

In October, total hires edged lower from their level in the previous month, while separations also were down.

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