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More workers are quitting their jobs in 2021 than in any year since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (USBLS) started tracking this data 21 years ago in its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. 

The quits level and rate increased in April to 4 million workers, or 2.7%, according to the latest data from USBLS. The industries where the most employees quit their jobs included retail trade (106,000), professional and business services (94,000), and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (49,000). More workers quit their jobs in the South (3.1%) than in the Northeast (1.9%). 

In the leisure and hospitality industry that includes restaurants and hotels, short-staffed employers are competing against one another by offering higher wages to job applicants. Not surprisingly, more than 740,000 leisure and hospitality workers quit their jobs in in April for a quit rate of 5.3% percent.  

Total separations, which besides voluntary quits also includes layoffs, discharges and other separations such as retirements and deaths, increased to 5.8 million in April.   

According to HR Dive, burnout may be the reason more workers are quitting their jobs.  A survey by the executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas noted this month that employees who work remotely and those who work on-site are all feeling stressed out from their jobs. 

Andrew Challenger, the senior vice president of global outplacement at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, told HR Dive: “Some workers may find new jobs simply to take an extended period of time off between the end of their former jobs and the start of the new ones.”  

Workers may feel compelled to take extended time off so that they qualify for unemployment benefits. This arrangement may be more appealing than clocking in every day, because working during the pandemic can harm one’s mental health, HR Dive says. 

“Considering the link between emotional well-being and retention, mental health continues to be a worthwhile investment for employers,” writes HR Dive columnist Caroline Colvin.