The American 'Great Resignation' by the numbers

·2 min read

"Scarce labor is becoming a fixture of the U.S. economy, reshaping the workforce and prodding firms to adapt by raising wages, reinventing services, and investing in automation," The Wall Street Journal reports. The exodus of workers spans the labor market but is most pronounced in the service industries, and the numbers are very large: 4.3 million Americans quit in August alone, the Labor Department said this week, the highest number since December 2000.

Analysts are calling this the Great Resignation. Here are some numbers:

  • 2.9 percent — the share of the nation's workforce that quit in August

  • 4.8 percent — the U.S. unemployment rate in September, a pandemic low

  • 293,000 — jobless claims last week, a pandemic low

  • 309,000 — women 20 and older who dropped out of the workforce in September

  • 182,000 — men who were added to the workforce in September

  • 108,700 — drop in the number of child care workers in September versus February 2020

  • 10.4 million — unfilled U.S. jobs (Labor Department)

  • 51 percent — business owners who said the have jobs openings they can't fill (National Federation of Independent Business)

  • 48 percent — the share of America's working population actively looking for a job or watching for opportunities (Gallup, July)

  • 61.6 percent — labor participation rate in September, versus 63.3 percent in February 2020

  • 4.3 million — jobs that have vanished with the pandemic-era drop in labor participation

  • 22 — number of economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal, out of 52, who predicted labor participation will never return to pre-pandemic levels

  • 40 percent — share of the 4.3 million people who quit in August from restaurant and hotel jobs

  • 930,500 — drop in restaurant and bar jobs in September versus February 2020

  • 12.7 percent — increase in hourly pay at bars and restaurants in August versus February 2020

  • 7.3 percent — increase in price of restaurant meals in September versus February 2020

  • 3.6 million — number of new retirees between February 2020 and June 2021

"You might be wondering why is everyone quitting now — like, right now," Trevor Noah said on Thursday's Daily Show. "I mean, people have wanted to quit their jobs since the beginning of time." In this case, "it turns out there isn't one reason people are quitting their jobs," he said, "because the pandemic has given people a million reasons to quit their jobs."

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