Labor Shortages Shift to Higher-Paying Industries, “Quits” Decline for Second Month but Still in the Astronomical Zone

Is the collapse of the formerly high-flying stocks bringing day-traders back into the labor force?

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Job openings in January remained at the upper end of the astronomical zone, the second highest ever, just a hair below the record set in December. Companies reported 11.26 million job openings (seasonally adjusted), up by 57%, or by 4.1 million, from January 2020. The astronomical zone started developing in mid-2021.

These job openings in the JOLTS data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics are not based on online job postings but on a monthly survey of 21,000 nonfarm businesses and government entities, asking them how many actual job openings they had at the end of the month.

“Quits”: 4.25 million workers voluntarily quit their jobs in January (seasonally adjusted), the second month in a row of month-to-month declines, something we haven’t seen since April 2020. The quits remained in the astronomical zone – it’s just that there are fewer people quitting their jobs as companies’ efforts to retain employees by offering higher pay and better working conditions may be bearing fruit.

Quits do not include involuntary separations. A high rate of quits with a high rate of hiring – the current conditions – are a sign that companies aggressively poach workers from each other. When I hire someone away from you by offering them the greener grass, I report this new employee as a “hire,” and you report the employee that walked out on you as a “quit.” On net, between the two of us, employment didn’t change. It was just churn.

Poaching and the massive churn that comes with it has been the dominant reason for quits, given the large amount of hiring going on at the same time: as employers reported that 4.25 million of their employees quit their jobs, employers also reported that they hired 6.46 million new people.

This astronomical rate of quits over the past 10 months shows that power in the labor market has shifted toward workers as many of them either have already found, or a confident that they will find better opportunities somewhere else. And companies need to adjust to that by offering better opportunities, more money, and better working conditions in order to retain their employees.

People also quit jobs to exit the labor force – to retire, to spend more time with their stocks and cryptos, to take care of someone, or whatever. And there was a lot of that earlier in the pandemic, but the labor force has been increasing sharply in recent months and is now nearly back to pre-pandemic levels, according to separate data from the BLS on the labor market. The labor force consists of people who either have jobs or are actively looking for a job:

The shift in job openings to higher-paying industries.

Job openings were very high across all categories of employers, but in some categories started dipping from the astronomical zone, while hitting new records or staying at records in other category of employers. And we’re starting to see a pattern.

Job openings fell from records in Leisure and Hospitality, Arts and Entertainment, Retail, Transportation Warehousing and Utilities, and Wholesale Trade. The declines could be a sign that aggressive hiring and retention efforts are starting to bear some fruit, and companies are able to fill some of their job openings.

For example, the job openings in Leisure and Hospitality, where wage increases have been particularly sharp in order to get people to come to work, fell sharply in January (seasonally adjusted) but are still in the astronomical zone:

Job openings in higher-paying industries rose to records, or stayed at records, including in Professional and Business Services, Healthcare and Social Assistance, and Education and Health Services.

For example, employers in Professional and Business Services reported 2.065 million job openings, the highest ever, up by 62% from two years ago:

The labor shortages overall remain in the astronomical zone and are large and disruptive for companies that cannot staff up to levels they want to, and they’ve increased pay to attract and retain talent. And workers have discovered their negotiation power and new flexibility among employers.

But we’re now seeing more people being drawn back into the labor force, for whatever reason.

Some of them may have blown all their stimulus and PPP money and their retirement money on stock and crypto bets gone awry – with stocks of many high-flying companies down 70% and even 90%, which when leveraged, wipes out the capital. And it may be time to get back and get a job – and there hasn’t been a better time to do so in many decades. A rout in asset prices could well bring more folks back into the labor force – which is what happened during the dotcom bust as well. Many of them are among the smartest folks out there, and it would be great to have them back in the labor force to accomplish something real.

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  90 comments for “Labor Shortages Shift to Higher-Paying Industries, “Quits” Decline for Second Month but Still in the Astronomical Zone

  1. TimTim says:

    Who knows.

    There may be many factors at play and in differing parts of the country and in differing occupations.

    That being so, if there is a significant recession inbound, last in the door can often be the first out.

    Not always, but sometimes, loyalty pays.

    • JT says:

      I was in my local supermarket around 4pm today. The deli counter was closed. They are short staff. Mind you I live in a heavily populated area in northeast Philadelphia. I can’t believe they can’t find anyone to take these jobs. Lmao this crash will be spectacular.

      • Apple says:

        Oh they can find plenty of people, just not at the pay they are offering.

        • Shiloh1 says:

          CEO of Albertsons makes $10,000,000 a year. That’s a lot of cole slaw at the deli. Also many cashiers, baggers and stockers.

        • Publius says:

          Shiloh1, Albertsons has 270,000 employees, so if the CEO made $1,000,000 per year instead of $10,000,000, the savings would provide the employees with a whopping $33.33 per year each.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Now add his stock compensation plan and his executive pension plan, etc. to it, and you’re at multiples of $10 million.

        • Ed says:

          Yes. Median hourly wage has declined for workers over the last 40 years. The money has gone to investors and those investors have kept more of it than they kept 40 years ago to boot.

          It’s too bad to be earning less than your dad and mom, something that is common in big swaths of the country.

        • Augustus Frost says:

          I worked for Kroger in the 80’s, through high school and university. The one I go to now has almost no staff you can see, outside of the specialty high margin departments.

          When I left in January 1988, I just got a raise to $9.29/HR. By comparison, that was about the same starting salary for some new graduates with a BA from the university I graduated.

          I was paid above a market clearing wage at the time since this was under an older more favorable union contract.

          I have no idea what their employees make now but Kroger solved the problem of paying the type of wages I made by eliminating most of the jobs that used to exist.

          If this is the type of wages that someone thinks they should be making, most of the jobs will disappear. Automated, offshored, or re-engineered out of existence.

          Businesses are not social services organizations which exist to pay anyone a “living wage”.

          Excessive senior management comp is a corporate governance problem that I think needs to be addressed, but an independent issue entirely.

        • Publius says:

          Okay, Wolf, say he received $30m a year (because stocks only go up, right?), that’s $100 per employee. Maybe $50 each for 2-3 others, $25 each for a few others, we’re up to $300/yr, still not much. I’m not defending executive pay, just responding to the very common assumption that if only executive pay were ‘reasonable’ (assuming anyone would take the job at this reasonable level) the employees would receive much better pay. Now, shareholders, company buybacks…

        • Wolf Richter says:

          But there isn’t just ONE executive at a company. There are quite a few of them. So start multiplying.

      • Robert Hughes says:

        Publix markets in Florida have done an exemplary job of hiring in all age categories from 16 to 80+. Recent checker was 79, bagger 82, cart boy 16. Service is so far above competitors. If you ask an employee where something is located they typically stop their work and take you to the location. Deli counter is 4 deep at 5:00 PM but difference is 3 to 4 clerks behind counter serving customers. I think their toughest job to fill is sushi makers.

  2. phleep says:

    I’m startled at all these crazy variables still spiking and plunging.

    As soon as one set of drivers (COVID) seems to taper off, another arrives. Good news (folks have jobs) is accompanied by eye-popping increases at the pump. This, as the stock market stumbles heavily.

    I’m so not the typical consumer, the mass behavior mystifies me. 37 years at my dream job so far, having missed only 5 days of work in that span.

    • Apple says:

      The corporation thanks you for your service. Please accept this $5 gift card to Applebees as a token of our gratitude.

    • Cem says:

      Like sick days or any days at all including vacation?

    • OutsideTheBox says:


      Lots of humble brag there.

      Hope you are sufficiently grateful for the robust good health that enables such an attendance record.

      And no… is far from being something we control.

      Good fortune is present in abundance.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        Wrong otb!
        Our health is about the only thing we can control.
        After a horrible vehicle crash 50 years ago taking a couple of what are usually considered essential body parts and subsequent negative prognoses from docs WE studied up on health maintenance.
        Only ”routine” check ups, exams, etc., when REQUIRED since then, and although definitely more challenges in late 70s these days, still having fun!
        Study up on what our great scientists have to say about health maintenance – not just absence of ”disease” and you might be surprised how much control of your health you have– IF YOU CHOOSE.
        Heck, just listen to the Wolf on the subject.

        • OutsideTheBox says:


          Keep thinking that way. By the way, that’s called denial.

          Also MORE humblebrag.

          Because you did it all on your own, right?

          Hopitals, rehabs, homes and graveyards are full of people who have learned otherwise.

          It is really really a bad idea to tweak the nose of fate.

  3. Jason says:

    A little of topic, but I feel like employers should think outside the box for ther labor shortages..
    Start hiring folks based on their ability, not a piece of paper with some degree…
    I guarantee you’ll be satisfied and will get more longevity out of your employees…
    Everyone has a degree nowa days… Not everyone has a head on their shoulders.

    • phleep says:

      Good point. Some of the same qualities make good employees and mostly, good students: ability to show up prepared and on time, and to understand and follow instructions, without constant prodding. A positive attitude goes far.

      In the college classes I teach, I purposely avoid very abstract fancy language. If I cannot explain something (at the moment, US Constitutional law) in plain language (and mostly small words), with clear examples, it means I don’t really understand it. There are people in love with their own fancy BS’ing. It can actually be damaging, I think.

    • Augustus Frost says:

      That’s a lot easier said than done.

      Doing what you suggest could lead to discrimination lawsuits, something which is at or near the top of every HR department’s list of things to avoid. it’s expensive, leads to bad press, and potentially bad morale.

      I do agree with you that the credentialization of the US labor force is a major issue. This is university diplomas and certifications.

      In the current environment, the most realistic option I see to change it is the medieval trade guild effect it has protecting incumbents while working to the disadvantage of certain demographics.

      Reducing the prevalence of credentialization would be a good thing, as there are too many now which don’t represent much of anything.

      (I have three certifications and two diplomas.)

      • khowdung Flunghi says:

        “…discrimination lawsuits, something which is at or near the top of every HR department’s list of things to avoid.”

        The population that is NOT in a “protected” category is a VERY limited demographic. Trying to provide constructive feedback for underperforming staff members pretty much guarantees a trip to endless headaches. It’s really too bad, because a lot of folks need a good deal of coaching. The concept of “at will” employment is a quaint concept, hence the “pip” – performance improvement plan. Made worse in the current situation where in some cases, anyone who can fog a mirror is “qualified” if they have a degree in something. Underwater basketweaving anyone?

        • German conservative says:

          I would prefer someone with a master in left-handed puppetry or a PhD in German Polka history (copyright D. Ramsay) over the wokish gendergaga o rainbow-inclusion-SJW crap diplomas you are seeing now.

        • Augustus Frost says:

          I agree with the above post. Ending government loan programs entirely would go a long way to accomplish it.

      • Mike T. says:

        Augustus accreditation has gone mad in the US. Where I work you now need a 4 year degree to be the receptionist. Really?

        • Marc 60 says:

          @Mike T

          Wouldn’t that job description be a

          “Business to client interface communications specialist”

    • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

      Jason-prompts me to look for an Atlantic or Harpers’ article from the late’80’s (‘early ’90’s?) entitled: “The Credentialization of America”. Prescient, as i can now recall…

      may we all find a better day.

    • Gabby Cat says:

      I can teach a person technology skill to do a great job. I can’t teach good work ethics.

  4. Harrold says:

    I think most of those open positions are aspirational. The company will fill the position only if their unreasonable demands are met. Willing to take low pay, be on call 24x7x365, vaccine boosters when ever they say, wear masks and have every skill they can think of

    This is typical in tech. I worked in many name brand companies. I can tell you their job descriptions require a blend of skills nobody in the world has. When they really need someone, they back down and hire specialists. Some may just be collecting a database of resumes so they can poach from competitors.

    Never trust implicitly and be on the lookout for ulterior motives.

    • Wolf Richter says:


      Nah. Employers hired 6.4 million people in January (see article above). That’s a lot. They’re trying HARD to hire, and they’re able to hire, and there are people with the qualifications that companies ARE hiring – and they hired 6.4 million of them in January. It’s just that there aren’t enough people looking for a job given the huge number of job openings.

      Sure, there are some issues, such as in tech with age discrimination, when a 35-year-old hiring manager just doesn’t want to hire a 60-year old unemployed, even if he is superbly qualified. That stuff has been around forever.

      • Jake W says:

        he has a point though. at least some portion of the job openings are essentially “if the exact right candidate willing to work for the salary we’re willing to pay drops into our lap, we’ll hire him.” that’s not the way the real world is ever going to work, however.

      • Hal says:

        Yep. There’s some hiring going on.

        I “know a guy” that’s 61 and had a catastrophic train wreck of an IT interview (skills not matching) recently.

        “When can ya start?”

      • Mike T. says:

        Wolf is right. Actually retention is very hard and hiring is harder still. I’m in IT it’s becoming a revolving door for newer staff. Old dogs like me still on a pension are anchored to stay. Employees without pension will jump to a new job along with their 401k for only a couple of $$$. Full remote and they are gone in a flash.

        • Mud says:

          Could it be 50 years off treating people,like ther dust in the wind ,have no loyalty ,U P laid off people than lost them because of covid, then can’t find help when people won’t return but there efficient

    • NoPrep says:

      I think there’s a lot of truth to your comment Harrold, in many cases. Yes, I’ve seen those available oncall 24x7x365 listings in my inbox. Mad! I’d rather be begging on the street and half-starving, than live that life.

      Work hard and long is great if you love what you do like Wolf does – working for yourself and keeping yourself set up very nicely, materially and knowing and sensing your little place in the grand scheme of things. Nobody loves those gigs you describe, except mental slaves. Someone else is getting rich and laughing a wicked laugh. And that person isn’t you, when you take that crap job and accept from them what is actually abuse.

    • Jon says:

      I work in IT and can tell you the position description requires everything in the sun impossible to find in one person.
      This problem is there forever I guess.

      I have many successful job offers.
      I look at the position and just apply although I may not possess all the skills.

  5. Digger Dave says:

    I wonder if there is any way to evaluate this hypothesis: With the wealthy (and their offspring) better off than ever, and with extreme amounts of wealth available, are there more “job creators” out there than the economy can sustain, considering that birthrates have been way down as well? This is 100% anecdotal, but it seems like many 20-somethings and even 30-somethings in this age group who would have been expected to go into the workforce, now get to style themselves as entrepreneurs and refuse to do menial hourly or salaried work. I have absolutely no data to prove or disprove this. Just a thought.

    • Augustus Frost says:

      If what you are describing is remotely accurate, it’s tied to the asset and credit mania. The mania was in place pre-COVID but then trillions in QE and its mirror opposite (deficit spending) inflated it even higher.

      The economy wasn’t robust before COVID. It was disproportionately fake then and it still is now, with most or all “growth” attributable to the loosest monetary conditions ever and increased government deficit spending.

      The country didn’t magically become a lot wealthier and more productive between February 2020 and today by shutting down large part of the economy while borrowing and spending trillions it doesn’t have.

      • Digger Dave says:

        Since I’m too lazy (and overworked) to see if there’s any validity to this hypothesis, I’m willing to see where the discussion goes. I’m not suggesting this is a Covid-thing. I would stretch it back at least to the late 90s/early auguts that this trend has been noticeable, albeit anecdotally, to me. I know it’s kind of cliché to complain that the youngsters these days are lazy, but I’m out of answers, at least in my field. The kids (laborers) these days, if they’re American-born are very labor-averse. In the trade I’m in it has been very difficult the past 10 years to get a worker in their early 20s with any work ethic whatsoever. These kids look around and drag their feet until some experienced hand like myself (in his 40s) or older dives in and does the grunt work. When I was their age is was expected that the newbies did the tough work. There was no expectation of having someone twice your age or more do it for you. Something has changed in the mindset of our ‘utes.

        • Jake W says:

          digger dave, there is no work ethic for grunt work because we’ve spent the last two generations indoctrinating people that such work is bad. couple this with financialization of the economy that encourages more unproductive work, and it’s not hard to see why this is happening.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          For JW and DD:
          Agree in general about the propaganda machine discouraging manual labor for most folks; however, there are many now seeing the vast opportunity for really good pay either for a company or by working for themselves as ”freelance” carpenters, tree and other vegetation maintenance, etc.
          Several I know of in CA, FL, SE,,, late 20s to early 40s are making a TON of money and are very happy to be where they are doing the work they love with their hands and minds ”engaged”.
          From what they tell me — and charge me– they are making a ton more than I did at their ages, definitely keeping up with inflation, doing somewhat similar or the same work.

        • Digger Dave says:

          VVN & JW,
          The situation is similar in my area and field. I’m doing fine running a small operation and the hourly billed rates & pay rates are more than keeping up with inflation. Clients do not bat an eyelid at them, because tradespeople are in short supply. That works fine for now, but personally, I’d like to have more (better/consistent) help. I lost my best guy this past year, who was in his 50s, to a better job (physically for him). He was in incredible shape for his age, which makes him an exception. Once workers get into their 50’s and up they start tapping out in many trades. I see some signs of encouragement – vocational high school programs are actively being pushed again after decades of neglect, but not enough (and not quickly enough) to make up for the worker gap. There are individuals out there with awesome work ethic, but the percentage is much lower than it used to be.

        • Lune says:

          Because the past several decades have shown those youngsters that giving up your back and knees to your company doesn’t buy you sh*t from them aside from a dismissive “thank you for your service” and a pink slip.

          Loyalty and willingness to work hard go hand in hand. Hard labor used to be heavily unionized with an expectation of an actual career spanning decades: start by digging ditches, eventually move on to operating the machinery and finally supervising the newbies. Along the way, the amount of hard labor goes down and pay goes up. That was the deal. But companies broke the unions and hired illegal immigrants in spades, people who wouldn’t ask for pay raises nor complain to OSHA about unsafe work conditions.

          They’d love you to break your back (literally) for peanuts in your 20s/30s like people before did, but when it comes time to make it up on the backend when you hit your 40s/50s/60s, they shove you out the door, to be replaced by an illegal immigrant or some other person more desperate than you. That leaves your only job being a Walmart greeter for minimum wage. Good luck sustaining your family on that when you can no longer stand for 8-12 hours without your back screaming.

          This is the new deal that companies offered. What kid would take it these days? No one that’s American born and has an option of burger flipper or better.

        • Digger Dave says:

          Unionized work has only ever been part of the picture. Independent tradespeople & small operations have also always made up a large contingent of the workforce. I’m squarely in this category. Yes there’s a raw deal going on perhaps with those jobs at at bigger operations, but many tradespeople spend years honing their skills and the entry level workers in their late teens/early 20s are not yet cynical enough or knowledgeable enough to be bitter about their long term societal contract. Their gung-ho-ness at that age just ain’t there anymore. At least not for laboring. But the foreign born workers we get here (which are by-and-large, self-selecting since they actively make an effort to get here and want to get ahead), don’t tend to have this problem or lack of respect for their elders.

    • Jon W says:

      Personally I think it is a broader problem with wealth inequality. At the top end what you describe is very much a thing. At the bottom end (and increasingly moving up the income chain) there is simply no incentive to work harder anymore. In places like the UK, you end up facing marginal tax rates of more than 90% due to the loss of in work benefits for many around the median income level (especially if they have children).

      What has also changed is that the massive rise in asset prices has destroyed the aspirations of many of the middle class. For example, among my friend group who were in London, most of us have moved elsewhere and compromised on jobs, or dropped an income entirely, because we simply realised we would never be able to get onto the property gravy train. The rentier capitalists simply squeezed too hard and their worker bees ran away, with a net reduction in overall output the result.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        It was the same when I lived in London in early 1970s JW.
        Thinking to get married to a local beauty, I looked around for work and was offered the same hourly wages I had been getting in California PER DAY…
        Really and truly, $5 PER DAY in London!!!
        Made me understand why my friends were so resentful, but it was the only place they could get even that much pay, pay being even less in the countryside from what they told me.

      • Augustus Frost says:

        It’s a combination of factors.

        At the top end, elites have pursued policies which have financialized the economy, flooded the economy with cheap foreign labor (legal and not), and either encouraged or did nothing to limit the offshoring of the industrial base. Bad as the US is, UK is probably the most financialized larger economy on the planet.

        For society generally, there is a culture of entitlement where the general consensus seems to be that everyone is entitled to minimum living standards, if necessary at someone else’s expense.

        Expectations are also hopelessly unrealistic. Look at housing where in the US, any newer SFH (maybe 90’s and later) are much bigger than those from the past. Many other examples too.

  6. cobo says:

    Wolf, what don’t you get? When j-o-b-s are seen as nothing but slavery, and that is the best the managerial class has to offer, and the world is clearly heading down a dark drain – isn’t time better spent rallying the fit, loading rounds, and sharpening knives? Where in the Davos narrative is there anything worth cooperating with? All those great charts that used to mean something… no longer do. I’m the perpetual optimist, but it no longer rings true for the “social contract” we supposedly respect…

    • Kerry says:

      Sadly, hardly anyone “gets it”. This is a controlled take down of our economy. People in general are morons…

  7. Anonymous Coward says:

    “Many of them are among the smartest folks out there, and it would be great to have them back in the labor force to accomplish something real.”

    In order to accomplish something real, companies have to invest in something real. Instead you have fintech still about gamification of trading and the next crypto b.s. or still how to get the slightest edge in the markets. Online, is all about dark patterns and eyeballs. Resource extraction is something real, is that what you mean? So many jobs are bullshit jobs, so no wonder the working stiffs have revolted. I often imagine where humanity would be if we harnessed our collective brainpower towards noble goals instead of the pull one over on the next guy b.s. that mostly passes for accomplishment.

    • Augustus Frost says:

      My sentiments exactly.

      Many jobs are BS because the product or service associated with it is also BS. Much of GDP isn’t real production which makes the economy more productive or wealthier. Here are some examples:

      Paying each other to do things we used to do ourselves

      Compliance with millions of pages of counterproductive regulations

      Employing in the vicinity of 70% of the world’s lawyers in our lawsuit happy society

      Funding perpetual money losing cash burn machines

      Crypto “mining”

      Planned obsolescence to keep the
      “landfill economy” going

      • Swamp Creature says:

        Most government Agencies here in the Swamp don’t need to and shouldn’t fill empty positions. A better alternative would be to eliminate the Agencies , get rid of the 90% useless jobs and contractors and save all the paperwork.

        • Petunia says:

          In the last couple of months govt contractors we know are quitting en mass. We know a few and they tell us their peers are also leaving because they can’t take the craziness anymore. Heard of one site in TX where the whole crew quit and another where they are on track to do the same. The govt employees we know in FL say they can’t fill jobs because of pay and housing.

        • Anonymous Coward says:

          Well, the IRS desparately needs to fill positions. They owe me $10,000 and I’ve been waiting months and months for them to process my return. Their severe understaffing has reached crisis levels, and not just speaking about my own experience.

      • El Katz says:

        “Paying each other to do things we used to do ourselves”

        Today’s ridiculous ads on our local website:

        Trash can washing and sanitizing. Somebody has built some kind of truck that you hook those big rolling trash cans to and it pressure washes them and “sanitizes” them. I guess they never heard of Dawn and a broom.

        Today’s more ridiculous ad was a dog poop picker upper service for your yard. Yes, hire someone to pick up your dog’s doodoo.

        People actually pay for this?

        • Jake W says:

          that’s an indicator of a society in decline, when there is enough wealth (or fake wealth) at one end that you can pay people to do everything remotely unpleasant.

          the third world operates that way, and we’re on our way to that status.

        • Augustus Frost says:

          Yes, which is why it’s supposedly imperative for the US to allow as much illegal immigration as possible.

      • Anonymous Coward says:

        I thoroughly recommend David Graeber’s book Bullshit Jobs. Humanity really lost a light in the darkness with his untimely demise.

    • Khowdung Flunghi says:

      “In order to accomplish something real, companies have to invest in something real.”

      HA! Spend a few hours watching the over-the-air TV channels in any major city and count the snake-oil hucksters pitching everything from “eternal salvation” to home delivery of “Vitameatavegamin.” P. T. Barnum was correct.

      • Hal says:

        The rest of the PT Barnum quote… “…and two to take him”.

      • Augustus Frost says:

        Yet supposedly smart and sophisticated people also believe the lies of the secular priesthood who are also peddling their false religion. They are on TV too.

  8. Richard Greene says:

    Very wealthy friends have owned a high end kitchen appliance and bathroom fixture business for many decades.

    They are losing their minds with unprecedented labor shortages and supply chain disruptions.

    Here are some of their problems — we advised them to retire — both nearing 70 and multi-millionaires — until we found how how serious their problems were.

    Can’t find enough employees for sales, warehouses, deliveries or repair work.

    Getting any new hires required a huge increase in pay compared with pre-Covid. Existing employees get the same huge raises to retain them.

    New hires tend to quit when they become eligible for unemployment.

    Existing employees have developed bad attitudes and work habits, knowing how easily they could find another job — in their minds, there’s no risk of being fired.

    And now the serious problems:
    — Can’t get many products without a long, impossible to forecast, wait.

    — Can’t get parts to repair the ultra high end appliances. There’s nothing like being berated by a rich man’s wife after her fancy refrigerator or stove breaks and they can’t get repair parts for months. These expensive appliances are much less reliable than ordinary priced appliances.

    A few customers who are so wealthy they have two kitchens (one for servants), get just as mad when just ONE of their two stoves break. So our rich friends get berated by other rich people!

    Now the killer:
    Their large customers, for condos, apartment buildings, and subdivision of new homes, refuse to pay for their appliances until everything they’ve ordered is available for delivery.

    They won’t take bits and pieces whenever they happen to show up in Michigan (often coming here from Europe). Because when real estate developers hire crews to install the appliances, which is also tough to do these days, they want everything they bought on the premises at one time, ready to be installed.

    The result of this supply chain disruption:
    — Instead of needing one warehouse with $1 million of inventory, and a just in time delivery system, our friends have had to rent 4 more warehouses to hold all of their partially filled orders from manufacturers and suppliers. So now they have $15 million dollars tied up in inventory, and tell us they can’t afford to retire until they can fill all the incomplete orders, and clear out the warehouses. Otherwise they’d close their business and retire.

    • Augustus Frost says:

      If the bottom falls out of this fake economy, they will be stuck with excess inventory which will lose a lot of value, maybe financially ruin them.

    • Apple says:

      Where can you quite a job and qualify for unemployment?

      • Masked Ghost says:

        Nowhere in the USA can someone simply quit and expect to collect unemployment. You need a really good reason to quit a job and collect.

        But maybe Richard Greene lives in another country?

        • Richard Greene says:

          You obviously don’t know how to work the system, and it is probably a good thing that most people do not. I posted a long comment and didn’t want to add more details on how warehouse men worked the system, But they do.

          These warehouse workers do heavy lifting of high end kitchen appliances, which if nothing else, are bigger and heavier than cheap appliances.

          These workers don’t walk up to my friends and say “I quit my job” — that won’t get them unemployment compensation in Michigan (UNLESS they claim and can “prove” discrimination on the job — I won’t get into that here).

          They “quit” indirectly, using several methods:

          — Fake injury — bad back that takes a very long time to heal — to collect workman’s compensation (they get a check for not working — what’s the difference if it is an unemployment check or workman’s compensation check?)

          — Slow motion job performance.
          If you do not violate any work rules, but just work very slow, need help lifting things, and maybe sometimes scratch or dent appliances once in a while when you are moving them, you can have to get “laid off” otherwise everyone will start working slow. Once laid off for substandard job performance, you can collect unemployment compensation, and

          — Prove a Covid infection
          Which is easy with a PCR test in 2020 — the PCR test detects 52 different viruses — only one of which is SARS-2 — and has lots of false positives with the CT rates of 35x to 40x that were used in 2020.
          You could have any respiratory virus, even a common cold, and “test positive for Covid”. Or not be infected with any virus and test positive for Covid with no symptoms. Of course you must stop working “with Covid”, and all sorts of state and federal unemployment compensation would be available to you.

          I’m sure there are other methods to “quit” a job, and collect benefits of some type, without actually saying “I quit”.

    • LeClerc says:

      Ice-9 inbound.

    • Jon W says:

      ‘Existing employees have developed bad attitudes and work habits, knowing how easily they could find another job’.

      Um, I have always been in a position where I could easily get another job, but that didn’t make me have a bad attitude. The only things that made me have a bad attitude, was terrible management that wasted my time, or treated me like I was a disposable robot.

      Perhaps your friends just need to ask themselves whether the jobs they are offering are actually desirable, and if not, how they could make them so. They obviously understand how to offer products to customers that are desirable beyond simple pricing. It’s really just the same with jobs when you are no longer in an environment where you can use the terror of being kicked to the street to keep your minions in line.

    • Dave Kunkel says:

      For some reason I have a hard time working up much sympathy for them.

      • Richard Greene says:

        We felt the same way for quite a while.
        Told our friends to retire — they are about age 70 and they were visibly stressed.

        They are multi-millionaires. The first family business was sold for 8 figures and split among three families. This is their second business.

        The wife and I retired at age 51 — having a lot of money was less important for us than a life of leisure with no work pressures.

        I changed my mind when our friends confessed they had $15 million tied up in inventory and could not afford to retire.

        They were blindsided by the supply chain problems which kept getting worse.
        Their big rteal estate developer customers can’t easily hire work crews to install the appliances — so they demand delivery of the full appliance orders before they will pay more than a relatively small deposit.

        This business is run by a brilliant MIT engineering graduate — a just in time inventory export and a computer expert. if he is struggling with supply chain issues and labor shortages, everybody else is too. No one was prepared for this wacky economy.

  9. Tom H says:

    I was one of the November quits. Scored better than a 30% compensation increase for changing jobs in cyber security, one bank to another. I left on good terms, and just last week my old boss called wondering how things were going and if I might be interested in my old job, which hasn’t been filled. If he can get me another bump I’ll jump.

    • Anonymous Coward says:

      I quit cyber security mid 2020 at senior level with very advanced skills and I couldn’t be happier not to go back, despite the labor shortages and high compensation. The field is a hot mess with tons of snake oil and all too often often the job feels like you’re a Dutch boy plugging holes in the proverbial dike. No thank you. I’ll focus on my creative pursuits. Thoroughly enjoyed telling recruiters from Facebook, Google, and Amazon what I really thought of their rapacious companies. They need to hear more of that.

  10. Zark Muckerberg says:

    Wolf, has rapid inflation cause this behavior in the past?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      We’ve never had this kind of crazy situation in the data. All this was totally unheard of until 2021.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        The job jumping HAS been true, at least locally, many times before Wolf, as has also been the very opposite.
        As a framer in early 1970s in a SE university city, I quit one job at noon, was hired the same afternoon to start the next morning at another project.
        Abusive superintendents were quite common in those days in SE USA, and many would put up with it out of sheer laziness IMO.
        Similarly in ”greater” SF bay area of CA in mid to late 1980s, when it became very hard to find workers for a few years, and I hear it is also that way now.
        The jobs and workers pendulum swings both ways, and always has done, at least in the construction/remodeling industries the last 60-70 years.

  11. Mike says:

    Fake job ads, they try to bring in cheap H1B workers with no rights who will afraid to speak up and will work 10-12 hours days. But, they have to fake job ads so that they get approval from labor department…

    “IBM emails show millennial workers favoured over older employees”

    • Wolf Richter says:



      It says in the second paragraph:

      “These job openings in the JOLTS data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics are not based on online job postings but on a monthly survey of 21,000 nonfarm businesses and government entities, asking them how many actual job openings they had at the end of the month.”

  12. SpencerG says:

    Late last year Wolf made a comment that has stuck with me… “people in their 30’s don’t like to hire people in their 50s.” Insights like that are why I read WolfStreet.

    It certainly rang true at the time for me. Despite being retired military, having an MBA, and having TAUGHT marketing and management in two different colleges… last year I applied to 208 jobs… got four interviews… and ZERO job offers.

    But to show you how things are starting to change… YESTERDAY I went to a job fair at a local casino. In the past they hired electronically or by going to local job fairs and letting you leave your resume with them. Without even having a resume in my hand I was informally questioned by an HR person who called upstairs and had TWO different managers come down and interview me formally. One didn’t offer me anything because he said that the other managers would make me better salary offers… and the other did. Call center job working from home.

    While filling out the paperwork the HR people told me that they had made 24 job offers that day… and still had 500 jobs to fill. They are having this on site job fair every single Tuesday now.

  13. Dan says:

    My 18yo son’s take: everyone should serve 2years between 18&20yo.
    Choice from gov: serve 2yrs in military, or serve 2yrs in free community college.

  14. YuShan says:

    Interesting how most of these charts correlate so strongly with the stock market.

    Also clear how overheated the economy has become from the easy money. Record high stock market, Record high house price inflation, record high job openings, record high CPI inflation…

    Every economist should be screaming for much higher interest rates! But they aren’t. Because first rule of Clown World: you don’t talk about Clown World.

    • Augustus Frost says:

      Many of these people seem to live or at least operate in their own “bubble world” which is totally detached from reality. Economists have access to data which demonstrates how most of the world actually lives but many others in the top 10% (or near it) seem to be oblivious.

      They are doing fine or great financially and so is their peer group, so most everyone else must be too, right?

  15. unamused says:

    Why workers quit jobs

    Now, if you could just get other people to make money for you, you wouldn’t need a job. They’re taking what you’re giving ’cause they’re working for a living.

  16. David G LA says:

    “Many of them are among the smartest folks out there…”

    – ha ha, good one Wolf.

  17. Notyourfather’sbroker says:

    I worked as Buyer for a well known multinational retailer and have dealt with Covid related supply chain challenges, delays on a daily basis due to labor shortages in the trucking and warehouse industry and lastly container delays.

    All these things that have compounded over the last two years, has made me and a handful of ex-coworkers jump ship after realizing that there were better opportunities out there that offer a better work/life balance, higher comp, fully remote schedules and less stressful environments . Everyone is making more money and some have moved to entirely different industries, including myself. Overall we’re all satisfied with the move. It’s a win-win in my book.

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