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Economic Report: Some 4.3 million workers quit in January as U.S. job openings stay near record high

The numbers: Job openings in the U.S. fell slightly in January to 11.3 million after setting a record at the end of 2021, but millions of workers continue to quit each month in what has become known as the “Great Resignation.”

The number of open positions slipped from a revised 11.5 million December, the Labor Department said Wednesday.

After falling to as low as 4.6 million early in the pandemic, the number of open jobs soared above 10 million last summer for the first time ever. They have remained extremely high since then.

While the economy has added an average of 614,00 new jobs in each of the past five months, businesses still say it’s hard to attract new employees and retain old ones.

Millions have quit one job for another in what’s become known as “The Great Resignation.”

Some 4.3 million quit their jobs in the month.

Quits peaked at 4.5 million in November. Before the pandemic, the number of people quitting jobs averaged fewer than 3 million a month.

The so-called quits rate dropped to 2.8% in January from a record 3%.

Big picture: The demand for labor is as strong as ever as the U.S. steadily recovers from the pandemic. Companies have tons of business.

The chief problem has been finding enough labor and supplies to meet the demand.

The economy could also be confronting more problems soon, however.

The Federal Reserve plans to raise interest rates starting next week to tackle the highest inflation in 40 years. And the Russian invasion of Ukraine is pushing the price of oil and other commodities higher.

For now most larger business leaders remain optimistic. Smaller firms are less so.

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
+1.90%

 and S&P 500
SPX,
+2.22%

surged in Wednesday trades. Stocks have been on a losing streak because of the Russian war on Ukraine, the rising price of oil and a pending increase in U.S. interest rates.

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