More Americans quit their job in November 2021 than in any month in history, according to data released Tuesday.
Some 4.5 million left their jobs in the month, an increase of three percent from the month prior.
Resignations jumped the most in accommodation and food services and health care and social assistance industries, according to the Department of Labor’s Jobs Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.
Every region in the United States reported increases in people who quit, signaling just how many people left their jobs. Most resignations took place in the southern United States, which includes Arkansas, Florida, and Texas.
Still, 6.7 million people were hired, according to the data.
“People who quit are taking other jobs, not leaving the workforce. On net, the labor market is gaining a ton of jobs every month,” Heidi Shierholz, president of the Economic Policy Institute, wrote on Twitter.
Job openings, meanwhile, decreased by 529,000. But there were still 10.5 million openings on Nov. 30, including over 1 million openings in the industries like health care, retail, and trade, transportation, and utilities.
“Workers continued to quit their jobs at a historic rate. The low-wage sectors directly impacted by the pandemic continued to be the source of much of the elevated quitting,” Nick Bunker, an economist for the Indeed Hiring Lab, wrote in a blog post.
“Of course, these data were measured before the Omicron variant had spread in the United States. While each successive wave of the pandemic caused less economic damage, there is still a risk to the labor market from the current surge of cases. Hopefully any disruption is temporary and minimal, because the outlook for 2022 is strong,” he added.
Daniel Zhu, an economist with Glassdoor, said that Labor’s report doesn’t capture the effects of the Omicron virus variant, which began circulating widely in December.
But “it does show what to expect when the pandemic worsens: falling but still high demand for workers and increasing churn, especially in COVID-sensitive sectors,” he said.
Omicron is a variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19.
The strain has become the dominant one in the United States and experts say it’s behind the explosion in COVID-19 cases in the country in recent weeks.
Though Omicron also causes less severe disease than the Delta variant, the jump in cases has prompted officials in large cities across the nation to issue fresh restrictions, citing a desire to avoid overburdening hospitals.
Walmart, Apple, and other corporations have shuttered some stores while Starbucks is among the companies to impose new COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
Omicron better evades protection from vaccination and statistics from some areas show the vaccinated comprise around half or more of cases.
But data also show most hospitalized patients remain unvaccinated, and early studies suggest the vaccines are still holding up well against severe disease.