0

The quit rate, which measures the number of jobs quit as a percentage of total employment, reached 2.8% in April 2021, the highest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) began collecting data in 2001. This record high quit rate occurred while the unemployment rate was 6.1%, still 2.6 percentage points above pre-pandemic levels.

Quit rates typically trend down as unemployment rates go up. For example, the lowest recorded quit rate of 1.2% came in August and September 2009. At that time, the unemployment rate was 9.6% and 9.8%, respectively. Over time, as the unemployment rate dropped, the quit rate rose.

The pandemic led to a record high unemployment rate of 14.8% in April 2020. The quit rate decreased to 1.6% but did not fall as low as the rate set in 2009.

The quit rate hit a record 2.8% in April 2021.

Embed on your website

Which industries experience the highest quit rates?

Data from the last 20 years shows that the leisure and hospitality sector consistently has the highest quit rates of any industry. That has remained true throughout the pandemic and in the most recent BLS data from May 2021.

Government, information, and financial activities had the lowest quit levels in May 2021 and historically. While quit rates for all industries dipped in the spring 2020, they rose in the fall. More than half of the industries had a higher quit level in May 2021 than in February 2020.

What are the earnings in the industries with the highest and lowest quit rates?

Sectors with the highest quit rates also tend to have lower average earnings. The leisure and hospitality sector had the highest quit rate and the lowest earnings in May: $18.05 per hour. The transportation, trade, and utilities sector had the second highest quit rate and the second lowest average earnings, at $26.21 per hour. Workers in the professional services sector had the third highest average earnings, $36.42 an hour, but had the third highest quit rate of all industries.

Industries with lower quit rates often report higher earnings.

Embed on your website

The quit rate was lowest in the government sector, but earnings data is unavailable. The information industry had the second lowest quit rate at 1.4% and average earnings of $44.33 per hour in May 2021. The financial activities sector reported the same quit rate and average earnings of $40 an hour.

Where are people quitting jobs?

State-level experimental estimates[1] provided by the BLS show Alaska had the highest quit rate in March 2021 at 3.6%. Kentucky and Mississippi followed with 3.4%. In the same month, New York had the country’s lowest quit rate at 1.6%, followed by New Jersey and Washington, DC at 1.9%.

Alaska, Kentucky, and Mississippi had the highest quit rates in March 2021.

Embed on your website

Regionally, the Northeast consistently maintains the lowest quit rates and the South the highest. In May, the Northeast reported a quit rate of 1.7%. The South reported a quit rate of 2.8%.

Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey
[1]

According to the BLS, “These estimates are currently identified as experimental as updates to the models are incorporated into this new data series.”