Not as many Utahns quit their jobs in September as the rest of the country

Nov 12, 2021, 2:31 PM
quit their jobs...
FILE: A sign advertising for jobs sits along the roadside outside a FedEx location in Zionsville, Ind., Thursday, April 2, 2020. Photo credit: Michael Conroy, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — A new report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a record number of Americans quit their jobs in the month of September. But the trend was not quite as extreme in the Beehive State. 

A more positive economic outlook led to 4.4 million people across the country quitting their jobs two months ago. And despite a belief fueled on social media, the numbers didn’t represent people quitting their jobs to go home and do nothing.

What happened, said Utah officials, is that people saw better opportunities in the labor market and started submitting their resumes. 

Utah Department of Workforce Services Chief Economist Mark Knold calls it an ‘opportunity quit.’ 

“It’s not discouragement at the economy, it’s opportunity within the economy to get a better job,” he said. “We have seen historically that when an economy gets good, gets strong, that people quit their jobs to go find another job.

“In bad economies, people will hang on to bad jobs or unwanted jobs because there isn’t opportunity to go get other jobs.” 

Related: Local program looks to help women break into tech industry

Knold explains there are a handful of sectors that are seeing the most employee change. At the same time, he said hiring in those industries is on the rise. Those sectors include manufacturing, wholesale trade, and retail trade. 

There is one notable industry seeing a lot of people quitting and where hiring is down. 

“It’s the leisure and hospitality industries,” Knold says. “It’s the only (industry) showing the quitting rates going up, but the hire rates are coming down. Which tells me people are leaving the industry and that industry isn’t finding other workers to backfill them.” 

He said hotels, restaurants, and entertainment establishments were hit hardest and longest by the pandemic. These industries are also experiencing the brunt of the ongoing labor shortage. 

Read more: Labor shortage impacts hospitality and ski industry, could offer new careers

Utah ‘opportunity quits’ 

Knold does see the trend of people ditching their jobs for better opportunities in Utah, but not to the same extreme as the rest of the country. 

That, he said, is because our economy fared better through the pandemic than other states. 

“We closed the economy in April, we opened it back up in May. Many other states did not do that. They kept the closures and the tight restrictions on the economy for a longer period of time,” he said. 

Read more: Economist says Utah’s economy is doing well during the pandemic

Utah and Idaho were the only two states in the country to see their economies expand through the pandemic. That means there are more jobs in the state than before 2020. 

“We didn’t have that ebb and flow as powerfully. So, you don’t have the great overburden, or instant burden, of having to hire people for professional jobs and so on that you’re seeing at the national level. That’s why our ‘quits and hires ebb and flow’ isn’t as noticeable or extreme as what they’re talking about at the national level,” the economist says. 

The Beehive State grew its workforce by more than 3% between September of 2020 and September 2021, according to the Department of Workforce Services

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Not as many Utahns quit their jobs in September as the rest of the country