4.5M Americans Quit Their Jobs in November, Hospitality Industry Saw Highest Numbers

More people than ever quit their jobs in November, the U.S. Department of Labor reported on Tuesday.

About 4.5 million people quit their positions in November, according to the report, which also said that 6.7 million people were hired (up from 6.5 million in October) and 10.6 million jobs were posted that month (down from 11.1 million in October). The findings suggest that the job market is bouncing back from the COVID-induced recession.

"Lots of quits means stronger worker bargaining power, which will likely feed into strong wage gains,'' said Indeed Hiring Lab research director Nick Bunker. "Wage growth was very strong in 2021, and...we might see more of the same in 2022.''

According to Bunker, the hospitality industry experienced the highest growth in resignations in November. The industry includes restaurants and other food-service jobs, which have seen major developments in the past year. One event of note is the unionization of a Starbucks store in Buffalo, New York, in November, when workers were able to negotiate better wages and contracts that Bunker said could be influential throughout the job market as a whole in 2022. Other stores plan to follow suit.

However, the Department of Labor report has one blind spot in its data—the Omicron coronavirus variant. Bunker said that further studies into the job market could reflect that.

"While each successive wave of the pandemic caused less economic damage," Bunker said, "there is still a risk to the labor market from the current surge of cases."

The Department of Labor is expected to release its December 2021 report in February.

Now Hiring
About 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Above, a man wearing a face mask walks past a "Now Hiring" sign in front of a store on May 14, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. Photo by Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

When COVID hit, governments ordered lockdowns, consumers stayed home and many businesses closed or cut hours. Employers slashed more than 22 million jobs in March and April of 2020, and the unemployment rate rocketed to 14.8 percent.

But massive government spending—and eventually the rollout of vaccines—brought the economy back. Employers have added 18.5 million jobs since April of 2020, still leaving the U.S. still 3.9 million jobs short of what it had before the pandemic. The December jobs report, out Friday, is expected to show that the economy generated almost 393,000 more jobs this month, according to a survey by the data firm FactSet.

The unemployment rate has fallen to 4.2 percent, close to what economists consider full employment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.