Healthcare workers keep calling it quits

Healthcare saw a bump this spring in the number of resignations as a share of total employment as many other industries begin to see the quits rate abate, according to The Wall Street Journal

Four million Americans quit or voluntarily left their jobs in May, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is up by 250,000 from April, but lower than the 4.5 million recorded in November 2021, the highest level in governmental records dating back to 2000, according to the WSJ

The number of resignations as a share of total employment averaged 2.5 percent from March to May, which is slightly higher than the pre-pandemic level and down from 3 percent as recently as April 2022. 

Healthcare and social assistance saw 588,000 quits in May, up from the 519,000 recorded in April. The quits rate, or number of quits as a percent of employment, was 2.8 percent in May compared to 2.4 percent in April and 2.6 percent in May 2022. 

Healthcare is hardly an outlier — the quits rate increased by less than a percentage point month over month in a number of industries, including construction, mining and logging, and manufacturing. At the same time, nearly a dozen industries saw their quits rate remain flat or decline month over month. 

At the same time, May brought a flattening to layoffs in healthcare and social assistance. The layoff and discharge rate was 0.6 percent in May and April, down slightly from the 0.7 percent recorded one year prior in May 2022. This is in line with the month-over-month change to the national layoff and discharge rate (holding at 1 percent in May and April). 

The WSJ notes, however, that initial applications for unemployment benefits — a signal proxy of layoffs — rose last week and are up about 20 percent from the start of 2023. The average number of hours worked a week has also fallen, which often preceded a rise in job cuts in the past.

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