A record 4.5 million people quit or changed their jobs in November, The Washington Post reports.
Labor Department data shows that the country set a new record for resignations in November, eclipsing the previous record set in September.
Overall, that number represents 3% of the entire workforce in the country.
The resignations come amid a hot jobs market and labor shortage, with about 10.6 million job openings available.
By comparison, there are about 6.9 million people currently listed as unemployed.
Many employers have tried to coax applicants with higher pay and better conditions.
“This is the tightest labor market ever,” Julia Pollak, economist at the jobs site ZipRecruiter, told the Post. “These are not quits from the labor force but quits from lower-paying jobs to higher-paying jobs, from less prestigious jobs to better, more prestigious jobs, from less flexible jobs to more flexible jobs.”
Workers gain leverage:
The labor shortage has given workers new leverage in the job market.
Before the pandemic, there were about 2.4 unemployed people for every job opening but now there are 1.5 jobs per unemployed worker.
The highest number of resignations came in the restaurant and bar industry, retail, and arts and recreation.
Nearly 7% of all restaurant and bar workers quit or changed jobs in November, along with 4.4% of retail workers.
Inflation cuts into wages:
Though many workers are leaving for better pay, inflation rates have continued to cut into wage growth.
Over the past year, worker pay increased at an unusually high rate of 4.8% but as a result of inflation real wages are down 1.9% over the past year, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
And despite a strong recovery with the economy adding 550,000 jobs per month through 2021, the country is still below pre-pandemic employment levels.