- September was another month in the “Great Resignation” as the US quit rate hit a high of 3.0% — with 4.4 million leaving their jobs.
- Restaurant and entertainment workers in particular are quitting at high rates — more than double the national average.
- Glassdoor’s Daniel Zhao said the US is seeing “Delta-induced quits” as workers in “COVID-sensitive” industries leave.
Coronavirus is likely still driving some Americans to quit their jobs, especially in industries that involve lots of close interactions with other people. This includes the job positions that make up leisure and hospitality.
Americans continued to leave jobs in September. Overall, 4.4 million Americans quit that month, and job openings dropped to 10.4 million. Daniel Zhao, senior economist at Glassdoor, told Insider that “normally job openings and quits move together.”
“The fact that quits increased in September, to me, indicates that we’re seeing some Delta-induced quits,” Zhao said. “And what I mean by that is workers in COVID-sensitive sectors like leisure and hospitality are quitting because Delta quite simply makes working conditions worse for those frontline service workers.”
Leisure and hospitality’s quit rate was at a series high of 6.4% in September, up by 0.3 percentage points from the previous month and more than double the national rate of 3.0%. Accommodation and food services, a subset of leisure and hospitality, didn’t see a change in its rate from August to September, staying at a series high of 6.6% as some people in restaurants and hospitality seek out better-paying positions.
Arts, entertainment, and recreation — also a subset of leisure and hospitality — climbed from 3.2% to 5.7%.
“The recent surge in quits in arts, entertainment and recreation looks to be part of a catch up as the reopenings for concert venues and sporting arenas have been slower,” Nick Bunker, economic research director for North America at Indeed Hiring Lab, told Insider in an email.
Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, said it’s “stunning” that from August to September, this sector nearly doubled in quit rate, although she cautioned that part of it may be statistical noise that may be revised in the coming months.
Other COVID-sensitive industries saw increased quits in September, such as education and health services. This industry saw an increase of 54,000 quits. The following chart highlights various quit rates in September by industry:
The millions of Americans quitting across industries in part is because people are thinking about what they want out of their job.
“I certainly think that the pandemic has led many people to reevaluate their work and their priorities and what they want to do,” Gould said. For leisure and hospitality workers in particular who make that third choice, she said workers may be thinking it’s “been really rough being in restaurants and hospitality during the pandemic” and thinking they need to find “something else that may be more fulfilling, that may meet their needs, that may pose less of a health risk for them.”
It may be hard to find some workers to join leisure and hospitality or to call back ones that left, though. According to one survey by Joblist, two reasons former hospitality workers said they would not go back were the low pay and because they wanted a new career path.
Food businesses and others have been listing sign-on bonuses in job applications as one way to attract new workers, while others have started increasing pay.
“That’s a reflection of the fact that employers are also recognizing that it’s going to be difficult to hire for the foreseeable future,” Zhao said. “They are switching more towards permanent pay increases because they perceive a long-term structural challenge to hiring. “
In addition to better pay, Gould said employers need to give better trainings and benefits to not only attract but retain workers.
Some good news, Gould said, is that with the increase in employment in October, we may see an increase in hiring in next month’s JOLTS figures, for the month of October.
“As we saw with the jobs report that they were about half-a-million payroll jobs added, but that’s a positive sign that the economy is moving in the right direction,” Gould said. “And I expect that to get reflected in the next JOLTS report.”