Businesses really don’t want to fire anyone right now – but workers are quitting more than ever

A woman quitting her job
  • In June, quits were near record highs for the third straight month, while firings and layoffs reached record lows.
  • It shows employers’ great reluctance to let their workers go – and workers’ willingness to leave.
  • DataTrek’s “take this job and shove it indicator” also hit a record, with 69.3% of separations being quits.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Quitting is so hot right now.

Monday’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS) data marked the third straight month with over 3.6 million workers quitting, with a whopping 3.9 million leaving their jobs and a record 10.1 million positions open. There were also more open roles than job seekers, Insider’s Ben Winck and Madison Hoff report.

But that’s not all. June marked another record low, with just 1.3 million workers being laid off or fired. In March 2020, that number was around 13 million, while from 2019 to 2020, it hovered between 1.7 million to 1.9 million a month.


DataTrek Research, an economic research group, tracks quits by something it calls the “take this job and shove it” indicator, which looks at quits as a percentage of job separations. That was a record 69.3% in June, meaning employers were more reluctant than ever to let workers go, and workers were more willing than ever to quit.

Jessica Rabe, DataTrek’s cofounder, told Insider by email that a high quits rate “typically reflects elevated worker confidence, which makes sense in the current environment given outsized labor shortages. People tend to leave their jobs when they find a better opportunity, and we think part of the high quits rate reflects the trend of many Americans relocating to the suburbs and out of urban areas throughout the pandemic.”

Rabe also said that Americans over the age of 55 are increasingly choosing to retire, which has been a primary driver of the so-called Great Resignation.

Another factor, per Rabe: Continued fears over the coronavirus and the possibility of new infections. While the Delta variant wasn’t quite raging at the time the June numbers were recorded, an analysis from payroll platform Gusto found that, in states opting out of unemployment benefits early, workers were more likely to come back in places with higher rates of vaccination.

Meanwhile, wages are going up across sectors as employers try to lure in new workers. That trend – alongside reports of businesses struggling to hire – have prompted some to say the country is in the midst of a labor shortage.

Heidi Shierholz, the director of policy at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, previously told Insider that this isn’t a “damaging” labor shortage – hiring was still up in industries like leisure and hospitality as pay went up, showing that growing wages might be the key to getting workers back.

And if employers don’t pay up, they might just get told to take that job and “shove it.”