Job openings shrink, quits rise to tie record level, as economy continued to recover in November.

Today’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows progress on the employment front, though we continue to be cautious. 

The number of job openings decreased to 10.6 million on the last business day of November, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Hires were little changed at 6.7 million and total separations increased to 6.3 million. Within separations, the quits rate increased to 3.0 percent, matching a series high last seen in September. The layoffs and discharges rate was unchanged at 0.9 percent.

The Associated Press reports this as good news.

A record 4.5 million American workers quit their jobs in November, a sign of confidence and more evidence that the U.S. job market is bouncing back strongly from last year’s coronavirus recession.

The Labor Department also reported Tuesday that employers posted 10.6 million job openings in November, down from 11.1 million in October but still high by historical standards.

Employers hired 6.7 million people in November, up from 6.5 million in October, the Labor Department reported Tuesday in its monthly Jobs Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.

Nick Bunker, research director at the Indeed Hiring Lab, noted that quits were high in the low-wage hotel and restaurant industries. “Lots of quits means stronger worker bargaining power which will likely feed into strong wage gains,” he said. “Wage growth was very strong in 2021, and … we might see more of the same in 2022.”

As the AP reports, data collection for this report took place before Omicron took off. So yes, some good news, but as the quote from Nick Bunker points out, the pressure to increase wages is likely to intensify, feeding into inflation concerns.

Cautious optimism. As always, policy matters.