Retail workers are still quitting their jobs.
The latest Job Openings and Labour Turnover Survey, or JOLTS report, released on Tuesday showed that while job openings in March declined from February’s 14-year high, the rate at which workers in retail are quitting their jobs jumped to the highest level since December 2007.
Quits are seen as a sign of strength in the labour market, as presumably workers aren’t going to leave their job if they don’t believe they can get another one.
The increase in retail quits comes amid announcements from major employers like Wal-Mart, Target, and McDonald’s that they would begin to raise minimum wage at some or most of their locations.
These actions from corporations were in part motivated by changing minimum wage laws in some US states, but are also seen as a sign that the balance of power in the labour market has begun to swing back in favour of workers.
Economists would call this a “tightening” of the labour market.
As for what this “means”? Well, it could be a sign of coming wage pressures, as employers will either be forced to deal with increased turnover or pay workers more to retain talent. If this materialises, it could embolden the Fed to act, though at this point, the Fed has made clear it will wants to raise rates at some point in 2015 and will raise rates slowly once it starts.
But really, more than anything else the retail quits rate shows the underlying strength of the labour market.
Last Friday, we saw that the economy added about as many jobs — 223,000 — as economists had expected, while the unemployment rate fell to 5.4%, the lowest since May 2008. Underneath these headline numbers, however, wage growth has remained tepid while economists look for broader signs that US workers are full back from the post-financial crisis recession.
Quitting workers is good place to look.
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