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What states saw the highest number of workers quit this summer?

Earlier this month, the BLS reported that 4.3 million workers had quit their job in August. Which states and sectors saw the greatest level of resignations?

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What states saw the highest number of workers quit this summer?
MEGAN JELINGER AFP

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released new data showing state and region on quit rates from August. This geographic data has become available after the agency reported that in August, 4.3 million people, or around three percent of the labor force, voluntarily left their job.

Nationally the quit rate increased 0.2 percent to 2.9 percent from July to August.

Overall in 2021, the workers in all regions have been voluntarily leaving their jobs at higher rates. 

Regional and State Breakdown

In the Midwest, the quit rate has increased from 2.2 percent in 2020 to 2.7 percent. The Northeast has seen the smallest increase in the quit rate, 1.6 to 1.9 percent. Southern states lead the country with the highest rate which increased from 2.4 in 2020 to 2.9 percent in 2021. Western states have seen quits increase from 2.0 to 2.5 percent over the last year.

At the state level, Kentucky (4.5 percent), Georgia (4.2 percent), and Idaho (4.2 percent) lead the nation. In addition to these three states, the BLS reported that the following states as a "significant" increase in their quit rate in August: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennesse, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Currently, there are more than ten million jobs available in the United States and many businesses have reported that they are struggling to hire workers.

Which sectors have seen the highest quit rates?

Some sectors are being harder by the phenomenon dubbed ‘The Great Resignation.’ In August, those in the accommodation and food service sector saw the highest quit rate, 6.8 percent, or 892,000 workers. The figure is up more than a full percent, compared to the rate in July.

Another sector that has seen a mass exodus of workers is that of retail trade, which covers all retailers who sell goods directly to consumers. In August, 4.7%, or 721,000 workers voluntarily left their jobs, which also constitutes the highest rate of quits captured in the last ten years.

In an interview with TIME Magazine, former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich said that in many ways the high numbers of workers leaving their job “is tantamount to a strike. American workers have, in effect, called a general strike.”

The scholar, who coined the term ‘Great Resignation,’ Anthony Klotz, currently an associate at Texas A&M has spoken about the impacts the pandemic has had on labor. Klotz argues that while many workers are looking for higher wages, his research has also pointed to a desire among workers to have increased flexibility. For Klotz, businesses have options with how they could help to retain and attract workers by thinking in a more innovative way about what flexibility in the workplace really means; for each type of business, this could look different.