A record 4.4 million American workers, which represents about three percent of the workforce, quit their jobs in September, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, despite the record number of people leaving their jobs, the number of available positions fell to 10.4 million from the 10.6 million jobs available in August.
Economists say that the high number of open jobs gives employees, especially those who work low-wage positions, more leverage when asking for higher pay and better working conditions.
“Labor now has the initiative, and the era of paying individuals less than a livable wage has ended,” Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM US, said, according to CNN. “This strongly suggests that rising wages are going to be part and parcel of the economic landscape going forward.”
The number of people quitting increased in several industries, with the most significant increase seen in arts, entertainment, and recreation.
The economy has yet to fully recover from the coronavirus pandemic, and the U.S. is still short 4.7 million jobs compared to February 2020. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in October was at 4.6%, which is more than one point higher than it was before the pandemic.