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Record number of workers leaving jobs

A Nebraska McDonald's advertises hiring amid worker shortages in September. Associated Press/Photo by David Zalubowski

Record number of workers leaving jobs

A new Labor Department survey showed 4.3 million American workers quit their jobs in August, accounting for nearly 3 percent of the total workforce. The number is up from 4 million in July and the highest since December 2000. About 892,000 employees in restaurant, bar, or hotel jobs accounted for the bulk of job quits. An estimated 721,000 left retail positions, and 534,000 quit healthcare or social assistance jobs.

Why are employees leaving? The report does not cite reasons, but economists suggest the August exodus was connected to a surge in the delta variant of the coronavirus. Normally, high quitting rates indicate a healthy job market because workers believe they can find a better position elsewhere. However, most of the job quits were from positions involving public-facing work in the South and the Midwest, where delta infections were the worst in August. Because hiring rates and the number of jobs available also slowed, some employees may have left their workplaces without the option of finding a better job.

Dig deeper: Listen to financial analyst David Bahnsen discuss declining workforce participation during the pandemic on The World and Everything in It podcast.

Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a reporter for WORLD Digital. She is a World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College graduate. She resides in Harrisburg, Pa.



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Big Jim

Like others below, and of course this is just anecdotal, I know three people who have federal government or related jobs that are quitting because of the vaccine mandate. One is going to be a stay-at-home mom and the other two are taking "early retirement."


I was employed by a small organization, but now 3 out of about 10 workers have left due to vaccine mandates and/or other progressive policies. I don’t know how much impact the mandates are having on the overall employment numbers, but surely this is having some negative impact on labor. Even workers who are not currently at risk of losing their jobs, health insurance, etc. should push for being able to make their own health care choices, if you don’t you may not be okay with the next thing forced on you.


Good point. But very scary to think about.


My most recent issue of THE ECONOMIST is quite stark. It proclaims the imminent appearance or actual arrival of a "shortage economy". Bare shelves? Not just for Venezuela anymore. It does seem as though Bezos and the other spaceship billionaires should have instead purchased container ships and maybe even purchased or built a (presumably roboticized) cargo unloading dock. It looks like the bulk of the cargo container ships are owned not by COSTCO but by a similarly named outfit (sans capital T) called the Chinese Overseas Shipping Company or COSCO. Threatened by economic collapse from shipping cut offs or outright elimination of computer chips for US made cars, will President Biden turn a blind eye to ChiComm depradations done to Uighurs, Hong Kong or Taiwan? If I had to bet...


The report may “not cite reasons”, and economists may blame it on the delta variant surge (which fits the mainstream media narrative), but I can tell you first hand from living in the town of Bentonville, Arkansas (only 1 example of many cities across the US) where vaccine mandates have swept across our town from major retail companies to hospitals, and chicken companies, that the mandate itself is the biggest force driving people to leave their jobs. I’m disappointed that you didn’t mention the mandate as a possible reason. Until we start actually digging into reasons behind reports like this, then articles such as this one are no different from what I could read on MSN. Journalists owe it to those who read their articles and most certainly to those who are facing INCREDIBLY hard decisions regarding jobs to not just take things at face value, but to report the truth. People may still lose their jobs, but at least their stories will be heard.


Strange. We had Covid surges last winter and didn't see this mass exodus. And now, half the country is vaccinated. You'd think people would feel safer. It doesn't add up.


I don't hold him out as expert on this or any issue really, but we should consider Bill Maher's view. He notes that the Blue state Governors and mayors are still full bore in lockdown mode. The red states? The governors and mayors in those places are wide open. Bands and stand up comedians like Maher are elated to book shows in red states even as they are locked out of performances in those cities and states they otherwise ally themselves with!


Without God I would not feel safe even if most of the world were vaxed.