Manufacturing sector contributes little to big quit, labor data shows

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While a record number of people in the United States left their jobs in November, the manufacturing sector did not contribute much to the Great Resignation.

Data released Jan. 4 by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that 4.5 million people left their jobs in November 2021, most in finance or industries directly affected by the pandemic such as services in hotels, restaurants, doctor’s offices and hospitals.

The total number of private terminations – an umbrella term used by the BLS that includes workers who quit and are laid off – rose from 5.9 million in October to 6.3 million in November, but the terminations of Manufacturing employment remained stable month over month. Preliminary data indicates that manufacturers lost 420,000 workers in October and November. Estimates indicate that 293,000 of those leaving employees voluntarily quit last month, compared with 298,000 resignations recorded in October.

Taking into account the number of employees in each industry, the separation rate in the private economy fell from 4.0 to 4.2% of the workforce in November, while the rate of termination of employment specifically for manufacturing fell from 3.4% to 3.3%.

At the same time, the hiring rate in the manufacturing sector fell by around 5,000 people between October and November 2021, from 482,000 to 472,000. The number of people hired by companies producing durable goods is remained stable at 270,000 new hires, but the number of new hires in non-durable goods companies fell by 10,000 to 202,000 new employees.

Despite the stable rate of job separations, employers in the manufacturing sector reported an above-normal rate of job separations compared to previous years. In November 2020, 57% of private sector workers and 64% of manufacturing workers who left their jobs did so by quitting voluntarily. In November 2021, those numbers jumped to 72% and 70%, respectively.

In addition, the number of unfilled jobs in the manufacturing sector fell to a 5-month low of 858,000 jobs in October, from a peak of 948,000 in September. In the broader economy, openings also fell in November, to 10.6 million, down from the 11.1 million unfilled jobs in July and October.


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