Does the new government data tell us what workers really think about the economy?
While economic analysts continue to search for (and occasionally find) signs of a weakening economy, new data from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics shows at least one indicator of workers’ confidence in the current job market: The number of quits edged up to a record high in July of 3.6 million (+130,000).
The share of people who left jobs on their own, known as the quits rate, rose to 2.6% among private-sector employees. That matched a post 2008 recession high. The only time the quits rate has been higher was in 2001, shortly after the government first began tracking how many people left their jobs.
Job openings also remain at higher levels than in previous years, which could ease fears that the longest economic expansion in history was in a danger of being derailed by a recession, signaled by an inversion of the U.S. Treasury yield curve.
“The U.S. has never entered into a recession with so many ‘help wanted’ signs out there across the country, meaning the labor force is already lean and mean with few surplus workers to cut,” Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York, told Reuters.
In the future, such an increase in quits might be even less frequent if employer demand stagnates, said Nick Bunker, economist at Indeed Hiring Lab in Washington. “The labor market remains strong, but signs point to it slowing to where job seekers may lose out on some opportunities.”
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