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Posts tagged with: "JTS9000QUR"

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Quits in the private sector vs. quits in government

A data story of a segmented labor market

Although the FRED Blog is committed to the long haul, we’ve discussed quitting before: that is, data on voluntary separations from employment. For example, earlier this year, a post covered quits for currently employed workers during economic downturns.

Conventional wisdom says that quits decrease during recessions and increase during expansions. But because there was hardly anything conventional about the COVID-19-induced economic shock, we take a look at the recent evolution of voluntary separations. And from the graph above, we see that the overall level of quits has reached new heights.

The graph plots data from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), showing the percentage rate of quits among all nonfarm employees (in black), private-sector employees (in blue), and government employees (in red). Because private-sector employees greatly outnumber government employees, the all-employees quit rate most closely reflects the labor market experiences of that private-sector group. Yet, regardless of the relative size of each section of the labor force, private employees quit their jobs three times more frequently than government employees do.

The data show some milestones: In August 2021, the overall quit rate hit at an all-time high of 2.9%. Private-sector employees have been quitting their jobs at unprecedented rates since April 2021, reaching 3.3% in August 2021. In contrast, the record-high quit rate among government employees is 1.1%, reported in both July and October of 2020. It has declined since then and seems to be returning to its very stable recent average of 0.8%.

These developments provide additional evidence that the private and public groups occupy different segments of the labor market. The January 2020 BLS survey on employee tenure reports government workers keep their jobs almost twice as long as private-sector workers do. Researchers at the BLS point out the former are, on average, older than the latter. No doubt the incentives to remain on the job significantly change with age, but when overall labor conditions change dramatically, perhaps the sunk cost fallacy (i.e., staying on a course of action due to a cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered) is unduly affecting some workers’ choices.

How this graph was created: Search for and select “Quits: Total Nonfarm,” using the “Monthly, Rate, Seasonally Adjusted” series. From the “Edit Graph” panel, use the “Add Line” tab to search for and add “Quits: Total Private” and “Quits: Government” to the graph. Remember to select the data frequency and units listed above.

Suggested by George Fortier and Diego Mendez-Carbajo.

View on FRED, series used in this post: JTS1000QUR, JTS9000QUR, JTSQUR

Which workers quit more?

Obviously, workers move from job to job over time and across sectors of the economy. FRED has some convenient release tables you can use to create a graph like the one above, which shows the rate of voluntary turnover (quits) for workers in four sectors: accommodation and food services, retail trade, manufacturing, and government. It’s striking that the ranking of these sectors doesn’t change despite variations in their levels of employment over time.

The consistency of these and other sectors becomes even more striking once you strip out the seasonal adjustments, as in the graph below, created with another convenient release table. In fact, seasonal variation seems to be stronger than variation caused by the business cycle. For example, people quit more when the unemployment rate is lower.

If we look closely, we can see some details: It’s remarkable that, on a regular basis, monthly quits in accommodation and food services represent about 5% of that workforce. And, in both graphs, the government sector consistently has the lowest quit rate. Given the right circumstances, of course, even consistent patterns can change.

How these graphs were created: Go to the release tables noted above, select the series you want displayed, and click “Add to Graph.”

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

View on FRED, series used in this post: JTS3000QUR, JTS4400QUR, JTS7200QUR, JTS9000QUR, JTU3000QUR, JTU4000QUR, JTU510099QUR, JTU7200QUR, JTU9000QUR

Quits by industry

FRED recently introduced “release views,” which make it much easier to split an economic aggregate into various components or categories. Here, we use the Job Openings and Labor Turnover release to examine quits and hires by industry. In the graph above, it is striking how the ranking of industry quit rates remains the same no matter how well the economy is doing. Also, the quit rates of some sectors respond more strongly as the economy improves. Naturally, one is more likely to quit a job when it’s easier to find another. This is confirmed by looking at the industry hiring rates in the graph below, where the ranking and trend of the lines are the same as above. See the spike for government hiring around 2010? That corresponds to temporary workers hired for the decennial census.

How these graphs were created: For each graph, go to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover release, find the right release table from the top list, check the industry series you want, and click on the “add to graph” button.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

View on FRED, series used in this post: JTS3000HIR, JTS3000QUR, JTS4000HIR, JTS4000QUR, JTS6000HIR, JTS6000QUR, JTS7000HIR, JTS7000QUR, JTS9000HIR, JTS9000QUR


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