This week’s Job Openings and Labor Turnovers Survey (JOLTS) had some good news about the labor market. The JOLTS survey, which began in 2001, gets much less attention than other BLS reports. The results released on Tuesday indicate that more private sector workers quit their jobs in the first two months of 2012 than at any point since 2008. Quits are strongly pro-cyclical. Workers are much less likely to quit their job if they don’t already have a job offer or they are pessimistic about their prospects for finding a new job.
The JOLTS survey indicates that 3.4 million workers quit their jobs in January and February, up almost 18% from early 2010, when only 2.9 million quits occurred. The job market still has a long way to go; between 2002 and 2008 an average of 4.8 million quits occurred in the first two months of each year. In other words, quits are about 29% below their pre-recession average.