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One reason America’s employers are having trouble finding jobs is clearly shown in a Tuesday report: Americans are leaving in large numbers.

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NS Labor Department said Dropout numbers rose to 4.3 million in August, the highest on record since December 2000, and up from 4 million in July. This equates to about 3% of the workforce. Recruitment also slowed in August, the report showed, and the number of available jobs fell to 10.4 million, from a record high of 11.1 million the previous month.

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data helps in filling a The puzzle hovering over the job market: Recruitment dropped sharply in August and September, even as the number of jobs posted was near record levels. Open jobs have increased by 62 per cent in the last one year. Still, as measured by Tuesday’s report, overall there has actually been a slight decline during that time.

The jump in quitting strongly suggests that fear of the delta variant is partly responsible for the labor shortage. In addition to giving up driving, many people who are probably out of work for fear of illness are not looking for or holding a job.

FILE – A Now Hiring sign hangs near the entrance of a Winn-Dixie supermarket.

As COVID-19 cases surged in August, job losses in restaurants and hotels rose from the previous month and other public-facing jobs such as retail and education increased. About 900,000 people lost jobs in restaurants, bars and hotels in August, a 21% increase from July. There was a 6% increase in layoffs by retail employees.

Yet industries such as manufacturing, construction, and transportation and warehousing have barely grown. In professional and vocational services, which include fields such as law, engineering and architecture, where most employees can work from home, leave was largely flat.

Other factors also contributed to the jump in quits. With many employers desperate for workers and wages rising at a healthy pace, workers have the potential to demand higher wages, or go elsewhere to find it.

The August data is probably too early to show the impact of the vaccine mandate. President Joe Biden’s Mandate Wasn’t announced until 9 September. United Airlines announced its mandate in early August, but it was one of the first companies to do so. And layoffs were unchanged in August, the report found.

related: Survey: 69% of hiring managers want to see COVID-19 vaccination status on resumes

government said on Friday Job gains were weak for the second straight month in September, with only 194,000 jobs added, though the unemployment rate fell from 5.2% to 4.8%. Friday’s recruiting figure is a net total, after leaving, retirement and layoffs are taken into account. Tuesday’s report, known as the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, includes raw data, and shows that total hiring in August fell sharply from 6.8 million in July to 6.3 million. happened.

“The data is highlighting the enormous problems businesses are dealing with,” Jennifer Lee, an economist at BMO Capital Markets, said in an email. “Not enough people. Not enough equipment and/or parts. In the meantime, customers are waiting for their orders, or waiting for their orders to be placed. What a strange world it is.”

Quits also increased the most in the south and midwest, the government said, the two regions with the worst COVID outbreaks in August.

When workers leave a job, it is usually seen as a good sign for the job market, as people usually leave when they already have other positions or are confident that They can get one. The big increase in August probably reflects that confidence among workers.

related: September jobs report: US adds weak 194K jobs as Delta keeps hold

But the fact that the rise in leaving was heavily concentrated in areas that involve close contact with the public is an indication that the fear of COVID also played a bigger role. Many people would have left their jobs without other jobs as well.

The sharp increase in job opportunities also has an international dimension: Job vacancies in the United Kingdom have reached record levels, although this is partly because many European workers left the UK after Brexit.