The Power of Labor: Record Churn & Quits among Workers as Employers Desperate to Fill Huge Number of Job Openings  

Millions of people are still watching this spectacle from the sidelines.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Widespread labor shortages have caused companies to offer higher wages, sign-on bonuses, improved benefits, schedules, and hours. This has the effect that people who already have jobs switch jobs to better their situation. The company that lost the employee now has a job opening and needs to compete in the job market with higher pay, etc.  It’s this type of arbitrage by workers in a hot job market that causes wage increases to spread – and employers have raised wages by the most in 20 years – amid record churn.

The number of people who quit jobs voluntarily to work for another company, or to stay home and take care of the kids, or to spend more time with their cryptos, or whatever, spiked by another 164,000 people to a record of 4.43 million in September.

Nearly all of these “quits” (95%) occurred with private sector employers, where quits spiked to 4.22 million, up by 29% from September 2019, which had also been a hot job market. The year 2019 had already seen the highest quits rate in the data going back to 2000. But since March, the power balance between labor and employer, driven by labor shortages, has changed dramatically.

This is not based on online job postings, but on a survey of 21,000 nonfarm business establishments and government entities by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, released today in its JOLTS report.

The “quits rate” in the private sector – the number of quits as a percent of employment – jumped to a new record of 3.4%. It’s a measure of confidence among workers to chase after higher wages and better working conditions, even in a different industry. It’s a sign of aggressive hiring practices by employers to poach workers from other employers:

The highest quits rates were in:

  • Accommodation and food services, remained at 6.6%
  • Arts, entertainment, and recreation, rose to 5.7%
  • Retail, edged down to 4.4%
  • Manufacturing of nondurable goods (such as food), jumped to 3.5%
  • Professional and business services, remained at 3.3%.

In the government sector, quits rates were the lowest of all industries, though ticking up, with the quite rate at the federal government rising to 0.8% and at state and local governments rising to 1.0%.

Job openings spike in supply-chain-related jobs.

Truck drivers, delivery drivers, warehouse workers, workers in the wholesale trade – those are among the workers that move the merchandise coming down the supply chains. And job openings for them continue to spike. Job openings in manufacturing have also spiked and remain near record highs.

In the Transportation, Warehousing, and Utilities sector, job openings in September jumped to 614,000 opening, up by 73% from September 2019, which had already set a record at the time.

In the Wholesale Trade, job openings jumped by 59,000 for the month, to 320,000 openings, up by 75% from September 2019:

In Manufacturing, job openings rose by 28,000 for the month to 897,000, which nearly matched the record set in July. This sector has been severely hit by shortages of materials and components, including the chip shortages that has hit the vast automotive manufacturing sector very hard. Manufacturers would likely look for even more workers if it weren’t for these shortages that keep production down.

In other industries, job openings near record or dip from records.

In Education and Health Services, job openings rose to 1.88 million, the second highest ever, and up by 51% from two years ago:

In Professional and Business Services, job openings dipped from the record to 1.79 million openings, up 42% from two years ago:

In Healthcare and Social Assistance, job openings jumped to a near record 1.74 million, up 56% from two years ago:

In Leisure and Hospitality, which includes restaurants, bars, hotels, and casinos, job openings fell for the second month, to 1.59 million, down by 17% from the July peak, but still up a blistering 58% from September 2019.

This huge industry offers relatively low wages, often lousy working conditions, and terrible hours such as split shifts and night-and-weekend shifts, and higher risks of infection than many other jobs. Most restaurants in the US are fast-food chains, delis, and cafés. And for those workers, the income is based on relatively low wages and modest tips, if any.

Churn, always high in this sector, remains at extreme levels, with over 860,000 workers having quit these jobs in August and again in September.

But it seems that hefty pay increases – up an average 8% year-over-year, the fastest increase in the data going back to 2004 – are starting to make progress toward bringing people back into the industry.

According to the jobs report a week ago, employment levels in the sector have risen by 1.9 million over the past 12 months but remain 1.4 million workers below the pre-pandemic levels:

In Retail Trade, job openings dipped to 1.12 million, having remained in the same record range for the past four months:

At governments, job openings in September remained flat with August, with a slight uptick in federal job openings (to 139,000 openings) and no change at state and local governments (718,000), after having plunged from the spike in July (for staffing needs at educational institutions):

Total Job Openings dipped in September from August – after a sharper drop in August from the July peak – to 10.44 million openings seasonally adjusted. This is a huge number and up 47% from two years ago.

The jobs report on Friday showed that payrolls at employers were still down by 4.2 million workers from February 2020, and by nearly 8 million from trend over the past 10 years. This is the paradox of the labor shortage: A huge number of job openings (over 10 million) and a still huge drop in the number of working people.

But more people are making the leap back into the working world as employers lure them with better pay packages, but only gradually, and it’s causing a record amount of churn, as shown by the record quits, as workers take advantage of those better offers.

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  195 comments for “The Power of Labor: Record Churn & Quits among Workers as Employers Desperate to Fill Huge Number of Job Openings  

  1. Petunia says:

    My observation with women WFH and caring for small children too, is they don’t want to go back to the office. WFH saved them time and money, this money went to paying off debt to lower their cost of living. When the child tax credits kicked in, it became possible for them to quit and stay home.

    Most working women with children make less and have the highest work expenses, so they contribute relatively little to the bottom line. If a tax credit covers this small deficit, they don’t have to work. They can stay home, have more kids, and get a bigger tax credit. The improvement in family life is probably more important to them now than a few extra dollars.

    • Petunia says:


      Notice the quit rates are highest in the lowest paying jobs.

      • Rowen says:

        A kid of my friend recently got her first job for $15 at Papa Johns. On the way home from the “interview”, she saw a sign for $20 at some BBQ joint. Gave her two weeks notice, which she didn’t even have to do, and switched over. I guess that’s technically a quit

        • Joe Saba says:

          and then low wage workers wonder why they can’t afford rent with their nice higher wage jobs??
          cause prices doubled but your new wages didn’t
          of course I to must RAISE RENTS to help me with trickle up – ie into my pocket

        • MiTurn says:

          “$20 at some BBQ joint”

          And, subsequently, have you seen prices skyrocket on the menus at any and every restaurant? No wonder.

          Bully for the employees, but this has to stop at some point.

        • Jake W says:

          joe, every post from you is bragging about raising rents. are you a troll?

        • Dave A Durnan says:

          Looks like the tables have been turned Capital. Knife can (but not often) cut both ways. Livable wages are a must.

        • Thinker says:

          Still inflation always has and always will outpace wages. And half these quits are do to vaccine mandates. My daughter just quit her job as a nurse over the vaccine mandate. Well she was given a choice get vaccinated or find a new job. So did she quit or was she fired. It was a ultimatum. Take a vaccine that is untested, ineffective or lose your job.
          Money is defined as a store of value. Now how can fiat claim its a store of value?
          Inflation always outpaces wages unless you buy those phony numbers the Fed and government put out. I do this crazy thing “I never believe anything the government says” minimum wage should have been $20 a hour back in the 90’s. Go to shadowstats and see what inflation was before they manipulated the numbers. They couldn’t keep inflation down so just used a different math formula to get the numbers they wanted.

        • NBay says:

          Just get mad (maybe even loose your cool) at him for treating his claimed collection of helpless peasantry like dirt, while making him richer and he’ll be immensely happy, IMHO.

    • chillbro says:

      you would think both sides could get behind the idea of letting a parent/woman have a choice to stay at home and take care of kids

      but neither side cares for pro family social policy in the US… i wonder why that be so lol

      • Petunia says:

        The real reason is the feminist movement was a big fat lie fed to women to get cheap labor and higher tax revenue. Women get good lip service in the US, but are generally disregarded at every level. In other western countries they are more honest about women’s roles.

        • Minutes says:

          I agree Petunia. There are always tradeoffs. People should be honest about it

        • Joe Saba says:

          remember that women only started entering work force en masse after NIXON ended gold standard in 1972

          prior – 1 wage(living) made by men was sufficient to buy house, cars and SEND KIDS TO COLLEGE

          now with devaluation(govt uses fake ‘inflation’) of fiat $dollar
          and MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF DEBT from our CONgress

          we have nearly reached implosion time

        • ivanislav says:

          Joe Saba,

          Do we implode with stocks limit-up or limit down? Crash and then hyperinflate? Can we have a softer gentle landing via Japanification?

        • Adama Smith says:

          The movement’s aspirations weren’t a lie, and we are still working on them. A woman is entitled to the same fair chance as a man, economically and socially, that’s all. She doesn’t have to aspire to things she doesn’t want. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was 2nd in her class at Stanford Law, right behind Justice William Rehnquist. She was offered work as a legal secretary. Was he?
          A top-tier example of why things needed to change.

        • LD says:

          Oh boy we have hear from this joe person about raising rents, yet again…. Nobody cares dude.

        • Thomas Roberts says:


          Woman get a better chance in America at every single role (government position and every non physically intensive job), for various reasons, the ones able to fulfill the bigger roles, don’t always take the opportunities.

          Give some examples of women being disregarded.

          As for work from home, it sounds nice, but I find the idea that most of the work from home Jobs, not being automated away, to be a fantasy. Anything that can be work from home, can be easily outsourced as well; whether that be to another country or to gig workers and other firms. These other firms and gig workers will fulfill specific roles, more efficiently, thus reducing the number of jobs.

          You have to consider that over time, more and more is moving to ever bigger companies, certain fields like consumer electronics/software are going to slow greatly in the next decade as hard limits like the smallest possible transistor size is reached. Self driving cars will be in full service. The post office is under attack and rather than be privatized, should be eliminated. Many things like this will come together and have far reaching effects to reduce the need for office jobs.

          The smart path forward is to encourage automation and as it happens, lower the amount of hours worked in a year to spread the remaining jobs around, thus giving everyone more time.

        • Petunia says:


          I knew somebody would try to argue the point with me that women have it best in America. After over half a century of being a woman in America, I’m not so sure that’s the case. Some of my counter points are gender based and some are societal. A lot of it is based on the lie of feminism, that there isn’t a price to pay for breaking societal norms. Even men have paid a price over the lie of feminism and it’s unrealistic goals.

          So here we go down the rabbit hole, yes women have more access to education and the workplace, but they are still underpaid at every level. I was a CS major and started off at level pay with my male colleagues, but ten years later I made half the money. I managed a project where a guy I hired for my team was offered 2K more by the company than I was making. He was worth the salary offered, but as the project manager, I was worth a lot more. BTW, they never gave me the opportunity to negotiate my salary as a PM, they assigned me the role without consultation. I got the memo with the rest of the staff.

          Let’s kick it up a notch and connect my reply to Wolf’s article on Social Security. I am what is referred to as a dual entitled beneficiary, meaning I qualify for retirement on my own record and my husband’s as a spouse. Women are penalized for working in America by SS, even after decades of living with the big lie.

          For the sake of this example, I will keep the numbers simple. Jane is entitled to 1000 a month full retirement on her own record and 1500 on her husband’s record. At full retirement she only gets one pension the highest one. In reality, Jane is receiving her 1000 and 500 from her husband’s pension.
          Becky her husband’s first wife, who never worked, gets the full1500 from Jane’s husband’s pension.

          If Jane takes early retirement her pension is cut to 700 and she is still only entitled to 500 from his pension at most, a total of 1300. Becky at early retirement can collect 1050, a lot more than the spouse who worked. While these SS rules are gender neutral, they do disproportionately affect women, because women are statistically lower earners. Working women are robbed of their pensions by SS and they make the system complex to obscure it from them.

          I could offer many more examples, but would effectively take over Wolf’s blog doing so.

        • Bobber says:

          Petunia, the social security rules don’t care if you are a husband or wife. The benefits apply to workers and their spouses. Your example applies equally to a situation where a wife work and the husband stays at home. There is no bias built into the rules.

          You are thinking a spouse has to be a women, but that’s not the case.

        • Petunia says:


          Please read the part where I say the rules are gender neutral. Even so, the reality is that working women as a group get a median of 80% of working men’s median benefit.

        • Calvin says:

          And by doubling the number of people in the work force by adding women, you half the ability of workers to maintain a steady wage demand, when adjusted for inflation. Throw in tens fo millions of “migrants” and it’s no wonder wages have been stagnant for so long.

        • Valley rider says:

          New poster here, yup, I fell for the feminist thing. No more…hate Gloria Steinem. It was also a CIA psych op.

        • Thomas Roberts says:


          All those arguments are centered around the idea women get paid less than men. At one point that was true, but it hasn’t been true for at least 20+ years. Many of the big tech firms have done internal investigations and found out, they were actually overpaying women relative to men. Google was one of these.

          Most of the workplace preference towards women has gained momentum over the last 20+ years, at the current point in time, men start off getting less advantages in getting into college and scholarships, are less likely to get hired for any job, and are less likely to get more and more key positions.

          As for the pay gap itself, one of my economic professors in college was a researcher into labor economics and that issue specifically. His findings were that women were more likely to take less well paying jobs with the same title (out of preference), women were less likely to demand raises and were less likely to switch employers, women were also less likely to promote other women. Additionally, women were less likely to work extra overtime and take additional in job training, and were more likely to have gaps in careers (sometimes, but not always, child related).

          His findings were the same as everyone else in the economics field. The reasons women weren’t promoting other women has been speculated to be jealously (crab in a bucket mentality). It might sound like women have huge disadvantages, but women currently have the big advantage of being preferred for being hired; switching employers is for many fields, by far the biggest way to get pay raises and women were less likely to do it.

          Outside of the workplace, women enjoy huge advantages in the present day, but are being misled by older women (older relative to them) (crab in a bucket mentality) and are blowing their chances (career and whole life). The whole social structure in America, hugely discriminates against young men in particular. Women are also far more likely to be given support by those around them, family, friends, charities, and the government.

          All of the crazy social movements in America are destabilizing the country and are going to have to lead to something. America has by far the world’s highest single mother rate. The experience you had being a woman in America, is very different than what is was for those born in last 30ish years, or those born before you. I can definitively say that for those being born in 1990+, possibly earlier, that being a woman is easier. Of course, many will be misled and end up worse off.

          Trying to treat everyone the same with certain considerations for actual gender differences, could work, but what we have right now, is very bad. Realistically, though a modernized society with modernized gender roles, would end up with everyone being the happiest and best off; it’s not entirely clear exactly what that would look like.

        • Petunia says:


          When I was underpaid as a techie, I was still in the top 2% of women earners in America(which implies the world). I found this out from my boss, when I asked for a raise. I’m sure the spread has tighten since then but I doubt it has closed.

          Right now, I know more women in law than other professions, the disparity in pay is big for women in law. Some of it is based on issues you discussed, concerning hours and family based leave, but it is an area where I know the spread is wide.

          The spread continues to exist in professions where women are concentrated as workers, regardless of level of education. Even in the fashion and beauty industries, the big money is made by men.

        • Thomas Roberts says:


          It’s definitely possible that some industries discriminate against women, but there are ones that discriminate against men. There are also industries like child care where guys are just not very welcome.

          Certain industries like fashion are just asking to take advantage of people. Anything that is too much of a dream job is a field, where most will be feudal subjects.

          But going back to your pay specifically, it sounds like you weren’t negotiating well, it shouldn’t matter if you were already in the top .00001% of women earners. The question is whether or not the employer is willing to lose you and how much value you bring. The single biggest way to get pay bumps, that greatly compounds over time, is switching employers. If women programmers weren’t doing that, that’s why they were being underpaid. Demanding a raise is unlikely to be effective if the boss knows you won’t quit. Pulling out the you are already in the top 2% excuse, should have been something that you didn’t react to. I’m guessing you looked surprised when you heard that, that’s when the boss knew he had you.

          It’s the same for any worker, girl or guy. In certain fields like programming, it sounds like women were collectively, being poor negotiators. Being too loyal to most companies, will get you taken advantage of, very fast.

          Gaps in your career are a factor, but “negotiation/switching employers/company loyalty” is the biggest factor by far. Total annual hours worked, is another underlooked factor for many fields.

      • raxadian says:

        Because most jobs wages are ridiculously low going by inflation, if compared to the past century, so both parents have to work double shift or they starve?

      • Augustus Frost says:

        No private business exists to be a social services organization or to pay for someone else’s progressive social engineering agenda.

        I fault the government for incentivizing certain economic behavior by corporations and capital owners which reduces general quality of life.

        I also fault individuals for making life choices which they cannot afford to finance. That’s on them and no one else.

      • Nick Kelly says:

        Neither side? Does it take a Canadian to explain US politics?

        ONE side tried for months but with only one potential tie- breaking vote in Senate, and if I recall zero or close to it from GOP, couldn’t be done. Only way to get one is more votes.

        BTW: only industrialized country without parental leave.

    • otishertz says:

      What about Dad?

    • steve says:

      These are all good points. But in the USA childcare costs preclude the ordinary woman worker from leaving their children for work. Imagine earning $17.00 hr in wages but spending $1,000 a week on childcare.

    • Nick Kelly says:

      ‘Medicare payments up 14.5 %’. CNN 11, 13

      Is this bit of inflation temporary ?

      Piece goes on to say mostly covered by COLA.
      OK, but aren’t there other increases in the COL to contend with? Food is up, gas is up, rent is up.

      Looks like half of COLA gone to stay alive before getting to the cost of being alive.

      • Petunia says:

        If you qualify for $1000 a month in SS, your real COLA is $59.00-$51.60, or $7.40. A whopping 0.074% increase. I knew they would steal back the increase and here is the proof.

        *The premium went up $21.60 and the deductible went up $30, which is $51.60.

        • El Katz says:

          The ANNUAL deductible went up $30….. so, if averaged out over 12 months, it’s an increase of $2.50 per month for the deductible…. so the premium increase of $21.60 + 2.50 =$24.10 per month which leaves about a $25 a month increase. Not a king’s ransom, but far better than the $7.40 you quoted.

          It’s a net 2.5% increase….. nowhere near inflation…. and that will get eaten up by the increases in the Part D premiums (my wife’s went up 11% if we stay with the same plan).

          Those who are quick to accuse the geezers of milking the system need to take a hard look at what *free* Medicare really costs. In our case, it’s about $9,600 per year – if we don’t use it. That’s Part B, Part D, and a supplement so we don’t get bankrupted if one of us gets a hangnail. If you add in the deductibles for Part D, and Part B, it’s over 10K….

        • Petunia says:

          El Katz,

          Sorry, I should have added 21.60 + 19.40 = 41.00, that’s the monthly increase $59 – $41 = $18 per month is the increase per 1000. This makes the new COLA really only 1.8%.

          Don’t forget the deductible is paid in full every year, $233.

          Also, you are nuts to be spending 10K a year for medicare. I would bank/spend it and say FU to the insurance industry.

        • El Katz says:

          Nope… not nuts. Ask any other geezer couple what they’re paying for Medicare coverage if they have assets to lose. Medicare Part B (which isn’t optional) is @$300 a month of that amount, alone. Going up to $340.

          My wife’s drug plan is $90 a month – no deductible. Went up to $101 for 2022. Mine’s $32 and I never hit the deductible. She has one drug, of many, (daily pill) that is $30 each pill. Do the math on that little jewel. Her insurance gets it down to $150 per month. She has an ointment that’s $400 a tube (discounted on G RX). Retail, it’s $800 for 42g. Plus you get fined by our generous government if you don’t have Part D coverage or enroll late.

          Medigap (read the Medicare coverage VERY carefully to see how you can get cornholed on that if you’re not paying attention) is about $150 each per month. With my spouse’s (aka the Bionic Woman) issues, her Medigap is a loser, bigly, for the insurance company.

          I’d rather she go to the best doctors and not fret about the expense nor skip meds because of the cost. Besides, I already have enough “stuff”.

        • Petunia says:

          EL Katz,

          Sorry your wife is in such ill health, but instead of writing checks, you should be writing the crooks in DC about the crooks in healthcare, and voting accordingly. These costs are insane.

          I don’t know why people put up with it. I know I could never afford to pay these costs in retirement.

      • DawnsEarlyLight says:

        Isn’t this coming COLA to adjust for past inflation? COLA is always a day late, and year short.

  2. historicus says:

    Powell says we must keep rates low to promote employment despite we have record job openings.

    Do these people really believe what they say?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      They’re a broken record. There is a scratch across the grooves, and the needle gets hung up on that old record, and same text plays over and over again, I think.

      • Tanstaafl says:

        Because of the salary increase, even the FED can’t afford new speechwriters. They have to live with the old jokes and punch lines.

        • white pepper says:

          ^wins the internets^

        • fajensen says:

          They can have robots write the speeches. GPT-3 has become quite convincing and, it being of the kind of machine “intelligence” we know how to build, understands absolutely nothing. Which is, it would seem, a highly desirable quality amongst our leadership.

      • MJ says:

        Wolf, I am a regular reader but not able to post as it usually says I’ve already posted a response – but I haven’t!

      • steve says:

        A very wise man once said…. When you (the fed) are no longer able to impact the markets, they will lie, they will deny, and they will talk about ‘other’ unrelated issues when answering questions.

    • Depth Charge says:

      Right. Every single benchmark that Powell cites has already been met, yet he’s printing like Zimbabwe. Has ANYBODY thought to ask this idiot WTF he is doing?

      • Jake W says:

        i saw a ridiculous article on cnn today.

        “In theory, Biden could show he’s serious about taming inflation by replacing Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell with an inflation hawk in the mold of legendary Fed chief Paul Volcker.
        Yet Powell is seen as the frontrunner and if Biden were to go another route, he would be widely expected to tap Fed Governor Lael Brainard or another dove.
        Powell has deep respect on Wall Street and investors are not freaking out about inflation, even if everyday Americans are worried. That’s why Zandi, the Moody’s economist, wouldn’t advise Biden to make a radical change at the Fed by finding someone new to tame inflation.”

        of course he has deep respect on wall street. because he’s basically showing that he’s willing to throw the rest of america under the bus for them. having deep respect on wall street is a negative, not a positive.

        • Depth Charge says:

          Every single person in power has an interest in keeping asset prices from falling, because they and all their buddies are the ones who benefit. About they poor they’re destroying? “Let them eat cake.”

        • SnotFroth says:

          Haha CNN; if you rearrange the third quoted paragraph a nudge you can glimpse a bit truth shining through.

          “Everyday Americans are worried about inflation but investors aren’t and Powell cares more about investors so that’s why a Wall Street firm recommends Biden keep him on the job.”

        • Sit23 says:

          Does anybody actually believe that Joe actually makes any decisions, or is actually capable of making any decisions? His performance at COP26 springs to mind. I thought he was on USA’s side, but he was actually a sleeper, as shown on video around the world. His minders and controllers should be totally embarassed about it all.

      • Monetary policy is used to build bridges across recessions and market turbulence, through liquidity. In this instance there is a high growth recession, Their policy is to allow liquidity to flow until CPI and GDP normalize. Angry reaction is that liquidity is fueling both these things. Their response, yes, but its fueling them both equally and when supply chain disruptions end there will be time to tweak policy. Raising rates after CPI reverts to 3% is the more prudent course. This isn’t 1970, they own the bond market, so yields are under their control. The tight labor market will keep a lid on economic growth. Foreigners are buying our dollar, our stock market, our real estate market. There is no foreign war draining the treasury, they can prop up the dollar easily. Manufacturing jobs returning would be a further complication, and those being lower wage jobs which are currently not being filled. What are the risks the global supply chain doesn’t get better? Significant. Outcome stagnation, which was the knock on QE policy, post GFC. Now they fixed that and you’re still unhappy? If the Fed didn’t have so many pots boiling they could take a victory lap. GDP up, job openings up. Greenspan said, America needs plenty of energy, NG, and they need an immigration policy, people to do the work, and a stimulative Federal Reserve policy. My concern is that no one understands what China is doing, and nor do they want to.

        • Jake W says:

          ambrose, do you actually believe this nonsense you wrote?

        • Depth Charge says:

          Dude, lay OFF the smack. You are delusional. They just printed everybody but the wealthy into poverty. Do you even read the tripe you post?

        • phleep says:

          Thumbs up to Ambrose. Anybody who expresses a novel point of view here today (or is in the tier of the economy that charges rent for anything) seems to attract ad hominem howls here without counter-arguments. “Nonsense”? “Tripe”? I suggest, try posing an argument and marshaling facts aside from just venting resentment.
          There are all kinds of paths and outcomes in this economy, and they are not by any means all bad. I’ve seen worse.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Agree totally with AB re challenges from foreign entities, but not only China: Seems clear enough that various nations are actually in progress of a concerted attack on many fronts, military, social, economic, etc., against the hegemony of USA and other ”western” countries, but especially against our underlying foundation of constitutional individual freedoms and protections from guv mint. “PAX Americana” appears to be going toward the same fate as has similar from Roman to British, eh
          As to the current economic malaise, certainly a reality for many elders and others, some of us have seen the realities of inflation and crash, AKA ”boom and bust” many times and have taken every opportunity to learn thrift as a primary economic focus, as well as preparation for extreme events that are always a possibility and usually DO occur in spite of all the good times, etc., etc.
          Having dealt with many very wealthy folks as clients over the years, I have not seen them to be any happier, satisfied, or even healthy, and frequently just exactly the opposite.
          “Money does not bring happiness” is an old saying, and not just an excuse, though the opposite frequently used as a reason for poor choices by many.

        • Nick Kelly says:

          I’m and just mentioning one thing:

          ‘There is no foreign war draining the treasury’

          The military- industrial complex does not need an actual war, or even an undeclared ‘police action’ to spend as much money as it can get from treasury. The trillion dollar, very problematic F 35 is just one example.

          Not all $ can be blamed on the military. The Navy said it didn’t want another Sea Wolf submarine coming out of its budget.
          Congress said you’re getting it anyway. The builder’s yard is in a US senator’s hood.

        • Jake W says:

          the ad hominem is because he thinks that foreigners buying our stocks, real estate, and that artificial gdp is up, because of government spending, and all of that is good, no matter what negative effects inflation has on americans.

        • Augustus Frost says:

          Your post assumes the people making the decisions actually have a clue.

          Any policy may or will temporarily work but these people always get it wrong at turning points.

  3. harry hv says:

    Better start tearing down that wall

    • josap says:

      You want truck drivers? Pay more.

      Then there will be fewer construction workers. Allow immigration.

      Lower labor for construction costs may bring the price of housing down a bit. Unless of course there is too much greed at the upper end, who knew?

      Nothing is in a vacuum and all the puzzle pieces are moving around bumping into each other.

      • Augustus Frost says:

        Allow more immigration?

        How about getting rid of the fiscal and monetary stimulus to end the labor and supply shortages? (Yes, I know the other impacts of this choice.)

        This country doesn’t need any more people. My family moved back to the US in 1975 when I was 10. The US population has increased by over 100MM since then and it’s concentrated in as few as several dozen metropolitan areas. Where I live in the ATL metro area, it’s increased by a multiple of 4X, to about 6MM.

        This noticeably decreases quality of life, except for those who don’t want or need to go anywhere and order everything from their cell phone.

      • Cashboy says:


        If you allow more immigrants in; doesn’t that mean you need even more housing for those immigrants?
        Then what would be your plan?
        Would it be to bring in even more immigrants to build housing for those immigrants?
        In the UK there are more than 4 million legal immigrants from the EU zone alone. A lot of those have knocked out kids while being in the UK.
        The UK also has a shortage of housing.
        If one assumes 4 people live to a house; then, just the 4 million immigrants from the EU sent back to the EU would free up 1 million houses.

  4. Cobalt Programmer says:

    1. I dont want to say about the reddit subreddit about leaving jobs. But the coming thanksgiving and holidays season will tell how everything will go or end.
    2. Federal jobs are flat because no one quit a federal job. Either they have to be kicked out or retire peacefully or die naturally. The federal deadline and state deadline is looming. Lets see next year 2022 Jan 1.
    3. Private jobs are another story. Hospitality for example, due to a disease of unspecified origin, lot of people decided, they are not going again in to hospitality sector.
    4. Lot of reentries, need a poke in your arm. Some are not interested to get it. Go Figure.
    5. Even with education sector, lot of bus drivers are missing and this will be difficult next school year. Spring 2022.Already you are writing a lot about transportation sector. Holy holidays Batman…
    6. 10 dollar is not pumping enough gas in to the tank as it used to do. I have an hundai accent. dunno about those gas guzzlin SUV folks. How do you even manage?
    7. If you see a colleague after a long time. “So you are back” is not a good opening line. He is working like your WFH.

    • CRV says:

      Your points 3 and 4 are mostly missed by a lot of ‘researchers’. Good you mentioned them here.

    • Paulo says:

      Two things:

      US private sector unionised is 6.3%

      US public sector is 34.8% union.

      Now, which job would you quit in the search for a greener pasture? One with benefits, job protection, and a livable wage? Not likely.

      I can only speak directly for my Canadian work experience (this is in reply to Petunia), but in every job I have worked females made exactly the same wage as I did if they worked at the same task. For example….pilot. Female inside agents did not earn what line pilots did for obvious reasons, but they made the exact same as male ticket agents and dispatchers. But female pilots made the exact same wage that I did, there were just fewer of them. No one cares as long as the person doing the job does it well. And union jobs pay the same rate for all doing the same work, with increases in vacation time for years worked for all employees, regardless of sex or age.

      I have never worked with another female carpenter, but every year more and more women are entering the trades for the same wages and reasons as men. In fact, that is why they are going into trades, for the salary and opportunities. When I retired I signed up for my welding ticket. There were several young women working alongside and they all got jobs right away. My neighbours daughter drives heavy haulers up in the oil sands and makes big bucks.

      I don’t think there are too many dinosaurs left in western countries that accept your examples as being okay. In fact, on decent jobs workers are restricted in the weight they are allowed to lift without getting assist so they don’t get hurt. They are too valuable to lose to injury. So even that old chestnut died. And let’s not even talk about combat pilots and infantry, etc.

      The article made the point that people leave crappy jobs for better ones and now they can. Maybe it’s time businesses that can’t exist without exploiting others should just go away and stay away. Next thing you know we’ll be buying our electronics from China, clothes from Bangladesh, and Mercedes from S Carolina. :-)

      • Anthony A. says:

        My personal Care Physician (PCP) is a 36 year old female and she is a good doctor. Lots of women are entering the medical profession and doing well. Nurses do quite well from a pay standpoint and they earn every bit of it.

    • Nick Kelly says:

      ‘need a poke in your arm. Some are not interested to get it. Go Figure.’

      Go figure indeed. Question: when an anti-vaxer buys a puppy, does he ask if its had its shots?

      • Cobalt Programmer says:

        The same reason congressional staffers were given exceptions to the poke but they will give shots to their puppies. The same reason Cali Emmy awards ceremony cannot enforce the social distancing but preached for others.

        I got the poke and I am clear about my stance. Anyone who wants to get it, be able to get it. But if there is a rule and he disobey because of choice, then he must face the consequences. Similarly, if the person leaves the job, we should be able to face the results. I am simply pointing out the obvious. I have nothing against you.

  5. Micheal Engel says:

    This backbone don’t look good.

    • ivanislav says:

      I hope you’re right! I closed most of my longs this week and now have an SPY short sized at 50% of my assets. It goes against all reason; a log-scale DJIA chart goes up and to the right for 100 years.

      Feeling invincible and gambling is fun!

      • Jon says:

        Don’t fight the FED!
        Your reasoning is right but market is stupid not driven by reasons

      • Old School says:

        In a bubble, gains can be biggest in the last few months as mania goes full speed.

      • The Real Tony says:

        Long the volatility index for the last trading days of November from the 22nd to the 29th seems like a much better trade.

  6. Brent says:

    If the power of real,productive labor surges then power of fake,non-productive labor must abate.

    ‘Recession is when your neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when 80% of Government workers in CA,IL and NY lose theirs’
    (RR, Sept 1,1980, Labor Day Speech,slightly modified)

    Lets start with Tenured Firefighters,Hereditary Heroes of Great Chicago Fire of 1894.Volunteer firefighters are OK,I have no beef with them.2 insightful articles explore this fake heroic image in depth.

    “Stop calling firefighters heroes”

    “Firefighter one of nation’s safest jobs”

    More librarians die every year under collapsed bookshelves than firefighters.Of 80 firefighters who die every year 40 are “presumed death” meaning heart attack caused by obesity caused by overeating which is supposed to be related to firefighting.

    And no librarian makes $175K or $500K per year raking in overtime while doing abso-f…-lutely nothing.

    And who is fighting forest fires in California ?

    Local CA press:
    “Convicts fighting forest fires in California”

    $1 per hour is convict’s pay for actually fighting fires (not $1 for time spent in the field).Plus stale bologna sandwich and hard cot in Cell Block #9 😀

    • taxpayer says:

      Great imagination you have, Brent. The “Great Chicago Fire” was in 1871, with a smaller one in 1874. 1894 was the Pullman Strike; you must have got confused. According to US BLS Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 24 “Fire fighting and prevention workers” died on the job in 2019, the latest year reported. They don’t report those who die off-duty, or retired. There were also 24 deaths in “Educational instruction and library occupations,” with no breakout of librarians or bookshelf collapse.

      • Brent says:

        “Great imagination,irrational exuberance occasionally displayed and intermittent memory slips”.Guilty as charged.

        I did not pay much attention to the Tenured >$200K per year Heroes until my high school buddy pointed it out.In the 80′ he served as a sailor-firefighter on aircraft carrier.

        Was paid the same money as me (E-4,US Army),about $780 per month.Non-stop training and cross-training,barely 6 hours of sleep daily,metal fires,ammunition fires etc…Because if you acquire reputation of “non-qual” and your Navy carees is dead.

        You may also look up:

        TR-141 Special Report: Firefighter Arson – US Fire Administration

        It is on FEMA website.How they create their jobs and justify their existence.

      • c_heale says:

        I don’t think librarians have the possibility of inhaling toxic smoke as part of their job. I think this is bad for your health long term.

        • Ron says:

          U fool they have oxygen tanks training is excellent usually if they get hurt or die is because of not following procedures or freak accident

        • Old School says:

          I don’t like the language of public servant. It’s a knock at private sector. Isn’t the person cutting up chicken in a factory or running the equipment to make toilet paper a public servant?

        • Brent says:

          =Training is excellent=

          I doubt that training is excellent for inmate firefighters.Here is your gear,vaya con Dios,dont miss evening roll call or we’ll lock you up in solitary confinement !!!


          “The incarcerated women battling wildfires”

          Shawna Lynn Jones,22 y.o. inmate firefighter,died while fighting forest fires.She was buried with full military honors.

          Thanks to inmate firefighting program CA saved $2B ( and immediately spent it on overtime 😀 )

    • TimTN says:

      Not sure how this is really related to this post but you do make a good point :-)

    • NBay says:

      I cherry picked a different part out of that EXACT same Labor Day RR speech.

      “….where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost….”

      Don’t which of the RR-puppet operators threw that into his script….but hiring even a “B” actor for their production got them a s-load of great results…..for them.

      I have a good collection of things “going to heck” that take an abrupt turn for the worst during that RR Show. National Debt and Incarceration charts being two you can easily find…..(trying to avoid links).

  7. DR DOOM says:

    If you don’t need the money why work? Don’t have to be a genius to come to this conclusion. A big economic plus will be that since they don’t need money from work they will have more time to concentrate on what Americans do best. Consume. The economy wifi boom even more now. They will need the extra time when the 100+ container ship inventory floating off Ca. coast hits the stores. This money printing thing is great. Its a new world plus an easy button to boot. The Gov’t has been keeping this secret from us and we have found out. Money does not grow on trees because it’s real source is Powell’s money printer. It’s Brrrrrrrrrrrrillant.

    • Anthony A. says:

      It would be nice to have an accurate breakdown as to who, exactly, is getting the NEW MONEY off the J. POW presses because I am not getting any of it. (retired, living on SS after contributing from 1961 to 2017, and 78 years old)

      • WES says:


        You and I as pensioners are definately getting the new money! Want proof? Notice the new money we are getting buys less and less!

        The old more valuable money we contributed was spent by the old governments as soon as they received it!

      • VintageVNvet says:

        Wife and I surely received all of the ”tax rebates” AKA stimmies that have been mentioned AA,,, and it’s still right where we put it when it arrived,,, waiting for the inevitable crash/bust, , , While we continue to live well, well below my SS income, with no debt at all, only increases in taxes, utilities and other energy, food, etc., etc… and even save more to compensate for the loss of value of the USD which for some reason is the only medium that our beloved GUV MINT sends us…

        • Anthony A. says:

          We spent our “stimmies”….grandson needed dental work (no insurance), we lost our 20 year old water heater ($1,625 installed Bradford & White 40 gal), and that’s all folks!

  8. MiTurn says:

    A family member works in the high-tech world and he said that job poaching among competitors has reached epic levels — especially because of WFH. His employer had a recent opening but couldn’t find anyone stateside to take the position, so they recruited a fellow out of India who was glad to move to the US. But there were passport issues, which took a couple weeks to sort out. But that was evidently two weeks too long, as the “new hire” from India had already moved on to a new job with a different company.

    • Depth Charge says:

      WFH = goodbye domestic jobs. Why hire an expensive American when you can just hire an Indian for 10% of the cost?

      • Jake W says:

        because most indians are inept at their jobs, especially in customer service and programming.

        • TimTN says:

          I work in the engineering industry and can attest to this. Did a 30,000 man hour project with “high value” engineers from India, would not have mattered if you gave them 150,000 man hours they never would have completed, “figured out” the project. These were senior engineers with 10-20 years experience supposedly as well. Rates aren’t 10% either, they are about 25%-35%, so the economics are not so clear on outsourcing. Not to say the bosses weren’t 100% all in even if it saved $1.

        • Petunia says:


          I worked with a team from China for a very short time. China makes India look like a genius incubator. And then there’s Evergrande.

      • fajensen says:

        If the work is not important enough to care about, why not save 100% in money and grief, instead of only 90%, by not doing it at all?

        In practice outsourcing to India means that now there must be two teams instead of one: The remote team in India doing whatever, nobody exactly understands how, what and why, and a cleanup team at home doing remedial work on the Indian deliverables.

        The quality show starts when the cleanup team drop the latest turd in the lap of management and leaves.

    • Jon says:

      I work in hi tech world.
      Honestly nothing really changed as most of the hi tech workers were able to work from home and they ate highly paid anyway

      All these shortage I can understand are at the lower end of the wage spectrum
      There was no lay offs in hitech works and no big hiring as well

      Hi tech job market is competing anyway because of cheap money and zombie companies are able to burn billions because of low interest rate and yield chasing and money printing

      • Anthony A. says:

        Jon, ever take basic English grammar, spelling and punctuation in school? (I hope you don’t code like you write)

        • Jon says:

          I post from phone hence this.

          I am not a coder but make a hell lot of money which I know you don’t care for.
          I care more for making money then being very good at things.

          My intention is not to be a good coder or write stories here for folks although I enjoy the comments and appreciative of all contributions.

          I don’t take any personal offense at your comment although you meant it to be.

          My advise: instead of being bitter on the current situation which we can’t change lets make some money and be healthy.

        • TheRealMRDyno says:

          To Jon:

          “I care more for making money then being very good at things.”

          You are part of the problem, not the solution.

        • Anthony A. says:

          Joe, posting from a phone is a pain and I agree. Members here will take you more seriously if posts are proofread for errors, etc. and come across as credible.

          Sorry as I didn’t mean to come across as harsh.

        • Jon says:

          Thanks for the reminder.
          Yes my post can be more lucid. Point taken.

          Responding to TheRealMrDyno:
          Not sure why am I part of the problem when FED and cronies are printing the money.
          I am just trying to make money in this insane world because complaining about it without doing action won’t change anything.

          My position is very clear: Bigger powers are in play way above us. Only a French revolution like thing would change things.
          Democracy is a sham as we all know.
          We all know FEd is going to be printing to infinity.

          I am fully invested bear and also have btc. I can help but be invested and have some hedges as well.

        • Old School says:

          I post from a phone as well. I am probably the worst poster, but the spell check changes a lot of words that I don’t catch. I am probably guilty of sloppy grammar as standards in the digital world seem to be a little lower.

          Wolf is an excellent writer in my opinion. Not everyone can do that.

    • Yossi says:

      I work as a software developer, I am going to move a company this year and get an increase of 20%-30% for my salary. Things are going completely nuts here in Israel.
      Wife got a 25% increase at the start of the year moving a job, graphic designer.

  9. Depth Charge says:

    This stuff is laughable. The FED and CONgress have taken an economy and turned it into some sort of a joke. These people have proven they couldn’t run a lemonade stand.

    • historicus says:

      Here is a chart of a Fed that is doing its job
      Fed Funds vs CPI

      Who knew, who was assured the Fed THIS TIME would not act as they have, would not honor their mandates, would not lift a finger to inflation?
      The bravery to know of the coming inflation and stay long everything…..because they knew the Fed would shirk their duties this time.

      • phleep says:

        The last time (and first time) I recall the Fed really putting a serious hand on inflation was circa 1981. We have had a lot of goldilocks economy and bouts of printing since then, growing longer and greater with each cycle this century.

        The Greenspan Put kicked in starting weeks into his tenure, with a loosening flurry after the 1987 stocks crash. It has been print print print, put put put at intervals ever since then. Rate hikes have been tepid and few. I think the political pressure is too much (USA crowds want their free stuff and exuberant consumerism). Greenspan and Bernanke did little to contain the crazy runups pre-2008. Bernanke half-redeemed himself mopping up that mess, but it was far too little, far too late.

        • historicus says:

          In 2007, the Dow made a 14K high and fed funds were 4%.

          In 2018, Powell took fed funds up to meet the then 2% inflation.

          Then, something happened…..the Dow couldnt handle the 2% fed funds and shed 5K in a few weeks. (maybe the market shouldnt have been that high)
          Then March of 2020 and the COVID debacle, and the Fed (Powell) running to others outside the Fed for help. With that “help” seems to have come a surrendering of command and direction. Massive moneys supply increases, inflation promotion, QE orgy, mortgage industry monthly support, and a hammer on the front end rates.

        • historicus says:

          see link to chart in above post
          Fed funds vs CPI

        • Depth Charge says:

          What a joke. Bernanke did NOTHING good. “Mopped it up?” Give me a break. He’s the one who started QEternity, and his lies are prolific. You’re just another asset bubble rider, it’s clear. Us savers have been getting crucified for more than 20 years, yet more people with more savings = healthier economy. These central bankers have been destabilizing the economy for decades. The bubble/bust clown shows they’re running benefit precious few.

  10. Tanstaafl says:

    In general, I would say: More jobs openings, higher wages, more benefits – that’s good. Even for greedy landlords. It’s the opposite that’s bad.

  11. Would be interesting to see which companies were able to use the pandemic recession to automate, and which have not. The earnings season was very good for the winners but there were too many misses. Imagine if FB downsizes, or ad revenues at Google, and people care less about their Apple toy, or their Tesla toy. Probably a good time to be a slumlord. Slap a coat of Greenwash on that apartment and raise the rent.

    • p coyle says:

      i bet tons of them automated. the mystery of the chip shortage has finally been solved.

  12. Crush the Peasants! says:

    Zerohedge is claiming that inflation is exceeding wage increases. Only nominal soup for you!

  13. Brent says:

    I never saw such a steep rise in commodity prices in a year.At least since I started reading “Economist” in late 80’s.Almost all items rose 30%-90%.

    Lithium rose 300%…

    EV for >$100K,anyone ?

    Exceptions are rare.Iron ore went down 9%,lumber reverted to pre-covid levels.Probably 9″ x 9″ windowless tool sheds priced at $1M ran out of buyers.

    Look it up at tradingeconomics dot com

    Almost all squares are green (+25%) or deep green (+50%)

    It may so happen that wage increases and stimulus $$$ are fools gold.

    • QQQBall says:

      Check out the rise in ammonia. Make you nose bleed

      • Brent says:

        Now prices of biodiesel (ammonia = fertilizer) will skyrocket too.
        Not a peep about biodiesel lately.

    • DR DOOM says:

      It’s proabaly going to be therapeutic to own a EV. If you get depressed you can go and lick your batteries for a free treatment. Elon the Magnificent might provide us a convenient port to get in a “good lick”.

      • Brent says:

        That was actual experiment with lab rats.
        Electrodes were inserted into rat’s skulls touching particular areas responsible for endorphine production.Rats kept pressing lever non-stop stimulating those areas, which made them deliriously happy.After 1 month they died from exhaustion.

        Well,watching stocks soaring every f… day makes me deliriously happy too, although I’ve never been a rat…

    • fajensen says:

      Pah. This is 100% a “Finance Thing” with nothing to do with “People”. Even though narrative is that the blame for every calamity always trickles down!!

      Wages and benefits checks are simply peasant-money, a fraction of “The Economy”. It does not go all-in Commodities and if even if people could somehow starve for a month and put all their wages up as margin, such small amounts does not really move a 60 Trilion or so market.

      Only the 100 or so people and institutions that can actually borrow at the FED’s negative interests rates can do that!

  14. Robert M says:

    This afternoon I paid $65 plus tip for two fish sandwiches with fries and two glasses house wine. At a fish camp in the FL Keys.

  15. Michael says:

    Why is everyone surprised that when the middle of the baby boom turns 70 (we were a big piece of the labor force) there’s a labor shortage? Duh! 🙄

    • Wolf Richter says:

      The labor shortage happened over the course of a year. Demographics happen over the course of decades. Every year, about 5% of the Boomers retire. And the millennials, an even bigger generation, is easily filling that gap.

      • Ron says:

        They don’t know how to work

      • Phil says:

        Pew Research has published several articles showing that the rate of boomer retirements has accelerated significantly during the pandemic.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Sure, there was some of that, in part because they lost their jobs and then couldn’t get back in (ageism), and in part because some boomers are in their 70s, and it was time, after having been slow in retiring before the pandemic.

          In 2019, Pew published this study: “Baby Boomers are staying in the labor force at rates not seen in generations for people their age.”

          During the Pandemic, many older boomers finally threw in the towel. Some of them have posted here about their decision.

          Lot’s of younger people too quit to go day-trading instead.

          Pew’s articles are mostly based on 2020 data. I have not seen an article by Pew based on data from 2021.

          But that wasn’t Michael’s point that I addressed. Michael said: “Why is everyone surprised that when the middle of the baby boom turns 70 (we were a big piece of the labor force) there’s a labor shortage?”

          Which is a completely different point than you’re making.

  16. Michael Scott Gorback says:

    I’m not so concerned about what people are walking away FROM, but what are they walking away TO? How do they expect to survive? You can’t have a buyer’s strike if you have a worker’s strike. Nobody making anything, nobody buying anything. Production before consumption or vice-versa – total lockup.

    *** If you cost your employer more than you generate, you’re toast. AI/robotics will replace you as soon as feasible. ***

    Has anyone noticed the irony of the checkout staff who help you with self-checkout? One person helping 4 people checkout on machines. Training their replacements one at a time.

    This old fart remembers when suddenly people had to learn how to pump their own gas and stick a credit card into the pump, much to the dismay of the guy who cleaned your windshield with a greasy rag. You know where you still see that today? Italy, home of efficiency and organization.

    • josap says:

      In France, due to narrow streets and recycling laws, there are 3 guys on every trash truck.

      In Spain, there are 5 different dumpsters to place different types of trash into. Each goes into a different truck so employ more people.

      There are also street washing trucks, one guy drives the other uses a high-pressure hose. This is done once a week.

      Dealing with the trash is a well-paid job.

      • Michael Gorback says:

        It’s also a useless job. If your soda can waste gets a load of French fries dumped in it, it can’t be recycled – at least in the US.

        • Anthony A. says:

          Goes without saying that most people in the U.S. aren’t bright enough to sort their trash properly for recycling purposes. Some are too lazy to do it too.

          Not everyone here wants to save the earth….

    • NBay says:

      When I get forced to use self check-out the game is on! (they tried at Walmart but got too many FU’s, I think, as low income people get it) I use only cash and my goal is to get the a manager having to come over with a key….the clerk, who knows it will replace job, is usually helpful, but also aware of spies from franchise headquarters and probably voice and camera recordings.
      Putting my money down the trash slot (for receipts) while he is still scanning my stuff, is a good one recently learned at CVS.

      “Economy of scale” and “bots” may be a good thing someday, but not with our present ridiculous wealth inequality.

      • p coyle says:

        i like your idea, but will continue my lifetime boycott of that W place, as well as several others.

  17. DawnsEarlyLight says:

    Where is the data for which all the people that quit, went on to other jobs?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      The increase in the number of employed people. I linked that data and the chart.

      Poaching employees from other companies is what recruiters do a for a living. And when that employee leaves to take the job that the recruiter proposed, it’s a “quit.” Even basic job ads with higher pay and benefits attract people that are unhappy at their current jobs, which a lot of people are. It’s in fact, difficult to find a job if you don’t already have a job.

      Here is the chart of the increases in working people:

      • DawnsEarlyLight says:

        Thanks Wolf!

      • Michael Gorback says:

        Job poaching should be a zero sum game. For every quit that takes a new job it nets out to zero.

        Also note that the methodology for the household and establishment surveys are very diffferent and produce different results.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          “Job poaching should be a zero sum game.”

          Yes, that’s exactly what the labor force numbers are telling us: little growth in labor force since August 2020, no growth in past 5 months when the quits started spiking because poaching become more aggressive as not enough people in the labor force, with some growth in employment leading to a decline in unemployment rate (% of labor force that is unemployed), with huge job openings and huge quits: 1. Zero-sum game for the employed plus 2. some number of unemployed becoming employed.

          The main difference between the household survey (red) and the establishment survey (green) is that the household survey picks up gig workers and the self-employed. The establishment survey picks people on the payroll, not contractors and others. That’s why I always show them together in one chart.

          So when you quit your job at Google and start coding as a contractor, it increases “quits” by 1, reduces the establishment survey payroll data by 1, and leaves the household survey data unchanged.

          And when you quit your job at Google to work for the Metaverse, it’s 1 quit, no change in either the household survey # or the establishment survey #.

  18. Tom says:

    I am one of the 4.22 million who left their job in September. I worked in cybersecurity for a fairly large regional bank, a fairly conservative but very profitable bank.

    Just two or three months ago the CEO announced a substantial dividend increase and a major stock buyback. I did the math and just the buyback amount divided by the number of employees worked out to over $82,000 per full time employee. This kind of made me sick. I decided it was time to ask for a raise, but was asked “are you getting offers?” What can we compare it to? Bring us some evidence – you’re already one of the highest paid engineers in the company.

    A few weeks later I secured an offer over 33% higher than my compensation at the bank. They countered at 10% (supposedly the maximum) and even though I loved the company, loved my boss and coworkers inflation is eating us alive and the idea of 10% just isn’t staying ahead of it. I also still feel ill thinking what 82K would do if it were distributed to the employees, especially the lower paid, instead of already wealthy investors and executives rewarding themselves with shares and options.

    I start my new job next week- full time fighting hackers for a third party providing IT services for Banks. At 53 I don’t know if this is my peak or if it’s going to be downhill from here- no idea. I’m a GenX’r, NOT a boomer, and my generation has had to scratch and claw for every nickel. Those of us who have finally made it by our bootstraps have paid every due, often twice. We are the competent, dependable, quiet workhorses. I resent the Boomers (A Generation of Sociopaths, by Bruce Gibney) and find their disdain of millennials pathetic. Thinking back on my career since the 90’s I’ve had so many incompetent boomer bosses unworthy of respect- ignorant, money grubbing entitled A-hole toads it also makes me sick. Even my boomer parents, though I love them, make me sick. (stimulus and PPP loan recipients with absolutely no need, also huge beneficiaries of agricultural subsidies and programs) Akin to those kinds of people who get special handicapped parking permits but there’s not a thing wrong with them. That is the quintessential Boomer in my view.

    If I wasn’t raising kids and building something- retirement portfolio, some real estate, building a house – if I didn’t have some goals and aspirations and I was less inclined to strive for something I would have just quit without even securing the next offer. I’m putting a lot into my local economy. My wife and I work long hours, pay a lot of taxes, and we’re putting a lot into the economy, truly. Neither my former employer with their stock buybacks nor my boomer parents with their PPP loans and stimulus put anything stimulative back into the economy. I received no stimulus- even with 2 dependents – over the cutoff by less than 5K in AGI.

    Please forgive my ranting, but maybe this might be pertinent to hear from one of the quits.


    • Nathan Dumbrowski says:

      Nice read. Very true to my situation. Had to read parts more than once. Congratulations on making it this far! Now where do we all go from here??!

    • drifterprof says:

      Tom: “Thinking back on my career since the 90’s I’ve had so many incompetent boomer bosses unworthy of respect- ignorant, money grubbing entitled A-hole toads it also makes me sick.”

      Those are the bosses. The large majority of boomers had to deal with those type of bosses. Are you sure other generations won’t have the same? And personally, not having had family responsibilities, I did quit or got fired a few times because I would not put up with it. Or I wouldn’t join the cheerleading for America’s gratuitous wars. I paid a heavy price in terms of career advancement.

      In my opinion, the main requirement in many if not most U.S. jobs is fitting into a weird social system (including racism, sexism, ageism, etc.) which often requires some kind of fake commitment. A commitment that is supposedly for productivity of the organization, but is mainly for the benefit of narcissistic power-tripping low level managers, higher level management and investors.

      Thanks for the book reference (A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America), which I’ll check out. Amazon describes it: “Gibney examines the disastrous policies of the most powerful generation in modern history, showing how the boomers ruthlessly enriched themselves at the expense of future generations.”

      That seems oversimplified. A study on retirement savings (21st Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey) estimated the following household retirement savings, including equity in one’s home: (group medians):
      Boomer $202,000
      Gen X $107,000
      Millenial $68,000
      Gen Z $26,000

      Seems natural that Boomers would have saved more since they’ve worked longer. A rough estimation of annual income from the median 202,000 Boomer savings would be about $8,100 annual income. “…the average senior on Social Security was collecting about $1,557 a month, or around $18,700 per year. When we add in $8,100, that’s an annual income of about $26,800…” Since half of retired Boomers have less than that annual income, how can they be described as “ruthlessly” enriching themselves?

      Oh well, haters gotta hate. A lot of us boomers are used to that hate from living in United States culture. So no problem — let her rip.

      • ivanislav says:

        I would imagine the median is not representative of the aggregate generational wealth disparities, because a large fraction of the population cannot or chooses not to save. I would argue you should look at the arithmetic mean, not the median.

      • ivanislav says:

        OK I looked it up and I was right. Average net worth as of 2020:

        Boomers: $1.2M
        Generation X: $0.5M
        Millenials: $0.1M

        Paints a different picture, eh? Now get off my lawn, boomer!

        From the article “understanding-the-wealth-gap-between-generations” at thesuccessminded-dot-com

        And yes the article also addresses the issue of adjusting for age.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          “Average net worth as of 2020:”

          It would be better to use median net worth. “average” is distorted by 100 super-billionaires that own the majority of everything.

          Musk and 9 working stiffs with as much debt as assets (zero net worth) are the only people in a cafe.

          1. What is the average net worth of everyone in that cafe? Musk’s net worth divided by 10 = $29 billion. So those nine dudes with 0 net worth are suddenly billionaires?

          2. What is the median net worth by everyone in that cafe? The net worth of the person in the middle = Zero.

        • ivanislav says:

          I would prefer to subtract the top, say, 1-2% of individuals to be more representative, but I don’t have that at my fingertips readily.

        • Old school says:

          You have to consider that financial assets are so inflated that future returns are going to be very low in real terms.

          If you want to be diversified and not touch your principal you might be talking 2% nominal return and minus 4% real return. 1.2 million isn’t going to be that much income even though it sounds like a lot.

        • NBay says:

          Use the ratio of Avg to Median. I had a good source for that for different countries maybe 8 years ago. We were at 5:1 back then….bet it’s worse now.
          GINI index is not a good picture unless you have a chart for different countries over time. (it’s easy to find).
          And yeah, Ivan, I have an ALMOST EQUAL beef with the the 1-2, even 5% as I do with the Buffet set. It’s all about how many planetary resources one “needs” to consume to be happy, and how many have to be in poverty for one to have an “adequate” nest egg.

          How many human beings can you put between yourself and homelessness or starvation is eventually a dead end game….and for ALL at this late stage of play.

    • Old School says:

      All you say is true. I have been there and done that.

      One thing to consider is there are different type of organizations. If it is a public corporation then you have a job because people staked up some money to get a return that is higher than a bank account. They have hired an operator to get that done. Sometimes the operator is poor. Sometimes it is a lousy business to be in.

      Labor has to do their part which is to vote with their feet if they are not getting treated well. Sometimes it seems like it’s your company if you have invested a lot of time and energy, but don’t forget it is the owners company (stockholders). If you don’t like that then you can work for a different type of organization which it seems you have.

    • Volvo P-1800 says:

      Same generation, same experience. The one advantage I’ve had: I was able to buy my apartment comparatively cheaply after the local (Swedish) real estate market crashed in the early 1990s. Those born in the 1990s and later now have to pay 10+ times more. In their shoes I’d be furious.

      • MiTurn says:

        I keep forgetting to comment on your handle. What a great car! Especially the wagon version. One of my old dream cars. Makes me smile whenever I see your post.

        • Volvo P-1800 says:

          Thanks! It’s actually what I drive, a red 1964 Volvo 1800S. Inherited from my maternal grandfather.

    • MiTurn says:

      “I resent the Boomers (A Generation of Sociopaths…) and find their disdain of millennials pathetic.”

      I understand the resentment, but these generational labels should not be treated as absolutes. I was born in 1961 and subsequently some demographer somewhere in time determined that I am a ‘baby boomer.’ I am not. I do not fit that demographic.

      My first job, starting at age 14, was as a farm worker (field hand) and I did so until I was 18. Been working ever since, until a disability forced an early and undesired retirement. I won’t live to see 65.

      These generational labels are really quite useless and if used should be seen as shades of gray and not black and white.

      • COWG says:


        You, as am I, are a Jones Generation….

        Absolutely nothing in common with the “ Boomers”…

        Actually, I can’t stand them… horrible people…

    • Paulo says:

      Great comment (from a Boomer) born in 1955. Lots of quits under the belt. Lots.

      Just wanted to say that I also had to scrape up every inch of the way. The World is a class/caste system and the US and Canada is exactly the same and always has been… just isn’t the accent thing or if your family had land, but where did you go to school? etc.

      My two kids and one nephew will get dibs on our estate. Is that a bad thing? We save/saved our money and assets and live quite simply so they’ll do pretty well. My first job was at age 13 crawling through the air ducts of our newly built courthouse, sweeping ahead with a bannister brush while a giant vacuum filtered it all out. (5 stories = lots of duct work. Miles.). 1970 and the contract company paid me $13 per hour when minimum wage was $1.75. After that I started my own company cleaning up construction sites after school….age 13-16, then worked nights and weekends pumping gas and doing lube jobs in an old fashioned gas station when I wasn’t out hound dogging and partying. Sawmill, construction, carpenter, pilot, fish hatchery foreman, university by correspondence….. sometimes working 3 different professions to make extra cash. That is what unconnected and working class boomers do/did to get ahead.

      Psycho Boomer was never the job description from what I remember. For those that think these days are so damn hard, well…it wasn’t too easy when mortgage rates were 18% and I raised rabbits, chickens, gardened, and shot deer to ensure my family ate well. (I was in my twenties then). That lasted 5 years in the ’80s until I finally just cut my losses and moved to a decent job. You just work harder when it gets tough. My son is now aged 37 and owns 2 houses. My daughter is 41 and is doing well. She worked her way through uni with a bit of help from me, but pretty much did it on her own. Son the same. When he was 17 I told him he could stay at home for a while but had to contribute, or he could stay for free if he attended the local college. He buckled down and completed an electrical apprenticeship by 22, and currently does all the electrical and computer work on autonomous mining vehicles earning about 3X what I ever made. Daughter owns her home but chooses to work 3 days per week in lieu of the big bucks.

      Incompetent bosses? Mean ones? Everyone has those. Real pricks. Of course they were older…they got there ahead of me except for once when I was a construction foreman and the youngest on the job site. Guys that ran job sites or owned their companies were tough bosses and if you didn’t cut it they would run you off one way or another. If they acted the same way these days they would face lawsuits. When I worked as a bush pilot we didn’t even get days off. Ever. You were paid by the mile and if you didn’t fly any miles you didn’t make any money….but when you did work you were paid well for it. One young guy asked for days off, even worked out a crew schedule to make it happen. You know what the boss said, “Goodnight man, what on earth would you do with a day off? You have all winter to sit around on your ass”. One time I complained about a non functioning airspeed indicator, (a somewhat crucial piece of equipment). The same guy said, “Goodnight man, if you can’t fly a plane without an airspeed indicator by now, there just isn’t any hope for you. None”. Shut up and did the work. 40 years ago. You think that would happen nowadays? Not likely. Yell at some lazy puffball on a job site and they’ll record you on a phone. My sister in law runs the front end of a big grocery store. She has had parents come in to complain about their kids shifts, kid you not.

      Maybe some Boomers skated into sweet little gigs because their folks had bucks, but I sure as hell didn’t know any. If anything, that is the way it is now with many parents flashing the cash to send junior to the right school.

      Quitting a job is very proactive and often the right thing to do when proper notice is given. It is often the only thing to do. Well done.

      • COWG says:


        I heard a “real” bush pilot would just open the window and spit…

        If it came back in, you were flying fast enough…. :)

    • SjS says:

      Thanks for your so called “rant”. It depicts my life so closely.

  19. SaltyGolden says:

    About twice a week I hear about somebody in my sphere (insurance) that I either work with directly or indirectly leaving their job. Mainly it’s to go somewhere else, but it seems there was also recently a spurt of retirements along with folks that have no plan but decided to just bounce.

    It feels like a game of musical chairs, but also it really feels delightful. Before this the basic metabolism of our workforce (again from my vantage point) appeared to be low and fairly sclerotic.

    There are downsides of course, the person I used to ask for support on whatever thing is no longer there and the new person in the job is just getting their bearings. But it’ll be fine.

    Also, for the last 40 years in the US, capital had labor over a barrel. What goes around comes around, god willing it lasts for at least a bit longer.

    • Old School says:

      There is so much going on now, it is a tough time to know what is what. I will list a few things:

      1. Negative real rates
      2. Negative real wage increases
      3. Supply chain
      4. Covid
      5. Financial Assets to real economy at all time high
      6. Political division and 50/50 Senate
      7. Rise of China and real estate bust

      A lot of people seem cavalier about where we are at and are going to be caught like a thief in the night when the tide goes out.

  20. Michael Engel says:

    1) Option #1 : SPX, a drop to Sept 2 high, bounce back to a lower high, turn around and close Oct gaps. After accumulation : 5K plus.
    2) After WFH and a day of volatility, the queen of the house
    is too tired to cook dinner for the family.
    3) They indulge themselves several times a week in family restaurants,
    but prices are crazy : Mexican, Italian, Chinese, a steak house, pizza…
    4) Fat & meat are hard to digest. They require a lot of energy to digest and process. The husband pays the bills and bacteria feast for three days.
    5) Allocate energy for food instead of fighting with your family and getting depressed.
    6) Exhausted and a little drunk, the queen of the house fall asleep.
    7) They wake up in the morning a little clogged and obese.
    8) Rinse, repeat, spend your income on gas and restaurants, have fun.

  21. The Real Tony says:

    No pressure on wages in Canada except in the fast food industry. Canadians will be ravaged by inflation. Lucky workers will get a 2 percent pay increase for 2022.

    • Helmut Beintner says:

      Get a Trade, 5% of nothing is still nothing. Most Mc Positions are for Part-timers. Or for graduates of 4 years Creative Poetry.

  22. Winston says:

    Search for:

    I’m A Twenty Year Truck Driver, I Will Tell You Why America’s “Shipping Crisis” Will Not End
    Guest Post by Ryan Johnson
    October 31, 2021

    2,435 words of reality from a true expert on the subject.

    • YuShan says:

      That was an excellent read. Thank you.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Winston & YuShan,

      “…. true expert on the subject.”

      Well, OK, here we go again. That article was written by the campaign of a Ryan Johnson who’s running for political office in Washington State. The guy said in his campaign statement that he used to be a delivery driver, delivering to the people and businesses in the district that he is now running in — not an over-the-road trucker.

      On his campaign website, he said:

      ” I have probably already met many of you by delivering to your homes or businesses. The 39th is one of my routes and my geographic knowledge of the 39th is extensive.”

      He might have been a UPS driver. It was a promo for the Teamsters along with it. It was a political piece. And campaign experts made it go viral for people like you to swallow it hook, line, and sinker.

      In terms of the transportation issues, the article recited everything I have been saying here for over a year. There was nothing new in it. The only difference was the conclusion, which was a political conclusion and call for political action.

      Here is his campaign website:

  23. YuShan says:

    In normal times, we would simply conclude that the economy is overheating: massive inflation, labour shortages, shortages in everything basically. Why are the central banks still pedal to the metal?

    “No, it is caused by shortages and supply chain disruptions!”

    That is the same thing! That is what you get when you hand out free money and keep real interest rates deeply negative, so everybody starts buying stuff from China, which has to be transported etc. And with -6% real interest rates, every business that loses less than 6% per year is viable (simply speaking). Of course all this messes up the labour market and supply chains! This is no rocket science.

    So you need to slow this thing down. When unproductive zombie companies die, there won’t be labour shortages anymore. How many highly qualified tech people are working for zombie unicorns that will never make a profit? And when you reduce demand for goods and services such that it matches actual production, you won’t have shortages and supply chain disruptions.

    Btw: why work if you cannot build wealth? If you have saved some money, you lose it quicker to inflation than you can earn it. So better enjoy life now and run down your balance before inflation has eaten it all.

    • historicus says:

      “No, it is caused by shortages and supply chain disruptions!”

      Though a contributing factor, the above is CAUSED BY the realization of inflation.
      Every purchasing agent in the world called their supplier, knowing of the nascent and promoted inflation, and said “Give me all you got at today’s prices”. Because inventory is EVERYTHING in an inflation.

      So, IMO, do not buy into the “bottlenecks are causing this” narrative.
      Though a factor, not the cause, though those WHO CAUSED it would have you believe so.

  24. Michael Engel says:

    1) Walmart don’t want to destroy their vendors in China, S.Korea and Vietnam.
    2) Those vendors don’t want to lose Walmart, Amazon, Nike, Macy’s….
    3) A settlement will be negotiate between vendors, retailers and gov.
    4) The usual promo items on sales for 50% – 80% discount on Black Fri, Xmas and Jan will be deeper and overextended.
    5) There will be no anti bubble collapse, but Nov CPI dead cat bounce will be rectified.
    6) US consumers are so loaded, they might lose their appetite for
    shopping, for a while.

    • Cookdoggie says:

      I don’t get it. Most days your handle is spelled Michael, like today. But a few days ago you had several spelled Micheal. Typically people know how to spell their name, so I can only assume there are some imposter Engels contributing here. I admit I’m tempted to join them. Only Wolf knows for sure.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        No imposter. Same person, same email, same IP address. Not sure why he is doing that. To see if someone notices?

        I noticed because the first time he did that, his comment got caught in moderation for that reason (changing login). People make typos in their logins all the time.

  25. The Bridgewater site has all the charts to prove this is demand driven. I am not so sure. The virus shifted demand from services to goods and then the Fed(s) stepped in with consumer stimulus. Turns out there was a lot of pent up demand! (guys like Rickards saying there is no pent up demand in SERVICES – were right). The economy will segway back and relieve the pressure. Goods demand can be met. In a consumer society demand creates supply (Greenspan), and credit is king, and services provide long term growth. Anecdotally I used the stimmies to replace things that were either broken or worn out. If there is more coming that will go toward improvements.

  26. SocalJim says:

    Workers that have money have declared an unofficial general strike. At the same time, investors are avoiding USD investments. This is what happens when a country sees widespread political corruption like we witnessed last November. This is going to be a very rough ride.

    • Depth Charge says:

      The corruption is top to bottom, and both parties. And it is in every 3 letter bureau. That is why I think the USA is over with. When corruption gets this deep, there’s no way to root it out. Take the FBI, for instance. It is shot through with political operatives rather than people who are supposed to serve all the people of all political persuasions – the COUNTRY.

  27. Bobber says:

    Regarding complaints about Boomer control of the power structure, I don’t think younger generations realize how much power they have. Imagine what would happen to asset prices if younger generations fought the FOMO emotion and waited things out. The whole system would come crashing down and they could take over ownership of the system at rock bottom prices.

    In reality, the wealth of the Boomer generation is completely dependent on actions and attitudes of the young. Asset prices would easily crash 50% in a year, if younger generations didn’t submit to the system so easily.

    The next Reddit craze should be about buying nothing, instead of buying Bitcoin and AMC like hapless sheep to a slaughter. But this takes some discipline.

    • YuShan says:

      The young generations are an increasingly large voter block too. I have little doubt that they will eventually vote many boomers and the older part of Gen-X out of their pensions and property, because they are not getting it either.

      • historicus says:

        They should pay attention to the DEBT LOAD being left them…by these miscreants at the Fed and in Congress

        When boomers were 30, the national debt was not even a Trillion….now 30 Trillion….and growing more than 1 a year.

        • fajensen says:

          Just default on that shit already. Somebody’s going to do it and i might as well be the boomers parting salute to the millenials :).

      • Jake W says:

        yes. i’ve heard the argument that the younger will inherit it from their boomer parents, so they’ll be okay. but the wealth of the boomers is not evenly distributed. i don’t see a large voting bloc being content having nothing.

    • Jake W says:

      that’s because the younger generation has been fed the line their whole lives that the best way to build wealth is just to just buy index funds. the problem is that that won’t work long term unless the economy is growing, which it’s not. so comparing 1980-2020 to 2020-2060 is not going to age well for people.

      • ivanislav says:

        The same idea should hold true for the US stock market versus those of other countries. Only in the US has the equities ride been consistently positive and perhaps we will mean-revert now that the country and circumstances are so different from what they were.

      • COWG says:

        True that, Jake…

        I also don’t think people realize that index and etf funds do not give you individual stock ownership…

        You own part of a fund that owns those stocks…

        If that fund starts to go under or starts losing money, the big money will be out before you can make any redemption to try to save your a$$…

        I truthfully doubt you could find anyone who would even talk to you…

  28. Remy says:

    I just saw signs posted all over the sides of the freeway in the Twin Cities – UPS starting $28-$35 an hour. Maybe seasonal, but wow.

  29. Michael Engel says:

    for Bobber

    1) The young generation are making good money.
    2) Some, in the early morning shift, between 3AM to 8AM, are loading packages on UPS trucks, in the regional processing center.
    3) Tech school are spitting out mechanics, cyber, nurses… in large quantities.
    4) After a short prayer, the trading room move to currencies, commodities, Crypto, to make money.
    5) Instead of shooting the bad guys on video games, they chase fx targets on the 4h chart, 5min chart, 1min chart.
    6) Delay, delay, do not determine what the chart will do, wait for your appointment bar.
    7) The mystic leader of the trading room, in his $5 t-shirt, teach his flock fibo, waves, arrows, pyramids, risk/reward, sl….His young members, mostly minorities, adore him like a god.
    8) Skills and discipline, besides profit, that’s what they get.

    • Wolf Richter says:


      You put a typo into your email address (“gmain”). Mutilators of Google properties in email addresses are instantly rounded up by the Google Secret Police and sent to moderation hell until I fight my way through the dungeon, rhetorical guns blazing, to liberate them.

  30. John says:

    M Engel: Gareth Bale just received his 100th cap

  31. Big G says:

    Retired from AT&T in 2018. Went out looking for work – BALONEY. Same demands same old pay. Old Dinosaur businesses need to go extinct! along with the two flavor regimes we have today.

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