Nearly 4 Million Americans Quit Jobs in July, Second Highest Record

Nearly 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July, setting the second-highest number on record after April, which saw the largest amount recorded by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The number of people who voluntarily left their jobs in July is up from 3.9 million in June, but just under April's record. Americans quitting in such large numbers suggested they are confident enough in their prospects to seek a new job.

Many people were laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic, but as the economy and labor market attempt to bounce back from the recession, job seekers are being more selective with positions and pay rates they're willing to accept.

In a report released by the Labor Department Wednesday, the labor force participation rate for August was at 61.7 percent, and remained within a narrow range of 61.4 percent to 61.7 percent since June 2020.

On Friday, the Labor Department reported that in August, job openings were added in sectors such as professional and business services, private education and manufacturing, while employment in retail declined.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Hiring Sign
Nearly 4 million people quit their jobs in July, the second highest number on record after April. A person walks by a "Now Hiring" sign outside a store on August 16 in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. employers posted a record job openings for the second consecutive month in July—more affirmation that the labor market is bouncing back from last year's coronavirus recession.

Job openings rose to 10.9 million in July, up from the previous record of 10.2 million in June, the Labor Department reported Wednesday.

But the department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report showed that actual hiring dipped slightly to 6.7 million in July, from 6.8 million in June. Layoffs rose slightly to 1.3 million.

"Overall, employers continue to struggle to find workers with the right skills, and those willing and able to work continue to be very selective," Contingent Macro Advisors said in a research note.

The job market, however, appears to have lost some momentum since July.

A surge in COVID-19 cases linked to highly contagious Delta variant has at least temporarily slowed the U.S. economy's strong recovery from last year's brief but intense coronavirus downturn. The coronavirus uptick has taken a toll on consumer confidence and could discourage Americans from going out to bars, restaurants and shops—something they've been doing with gusto since the rollout of vaccines earlier this year.

The Labor Department reported Friday the economy generated a disappointing 235,000 jobs last month—about a third what economists had expected and down sharply from 962,000 in June and 1.1 million in July. Restaurants and bars cut 42,000 jobs in August. Hotels added just 7,000, fewest since February.

California Job Market
California employers are adding new jobs at a record-breaking pace even as the state's unemployment claims remain stubbornly high, a sign the Delta variant could be giving people pause about returning to work. A "NOW HIRING" sign is posted in the window of The Wharf Chocolate Factory at Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey, California, on August 6. Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo