Earlier this week, it was reported that a record 4.3 million workers quit their jobs in August alone, with food and retail employees leaving in droves according to Labor Department statistics.
“Quits hit a new series high going back to December 2000, as 4.3 million workers left their jobs,” reported CNBC. “The quits rate rose to 2.9%, an increase of 242,000 from the previous month, which saw a rate of 2.7%, according to the department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. The rate, which is measured against total employment, is the highest in a data series that goes back to December 2000.”
“As job openings and hires fell in August, the quits rate hit a new series high, surging along with the rise in Covid cases and likely growing concerns about working in the continuing pandemic,” said Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute.
“There is an enormous labor shortage in the country right now and it is not just because people are quitting or have child care problems, or can’t get to work due to the Delta variant,” wrote Chris Rupkey, chief economist at Fwdbonds. “The economy is strong as a bull, that is why there is a tremendous demand for labor.”
And not only are people leaving the workforce, but according to the latest consumer data discussed by The Associated Press, inflation is up 5.4% compared to one year ago, with the Labor Department reporting that the annual increase in the consumer price index matched readings in June and July as the highest in 13 years.
However, despite the millions of workers leaving their jobs, President Joe Biden released a statement on Thursday celebrating the economic success of his policies by narrowly focusing on weekly figures for new unemployment claims.
“Today, we learned that the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment has fallen below 300,000 for the first time since the pandemic began — a drop of more than 60 percent since I took office, and the lowest weekly figure since March 14, 2020. While this is just one week, the fact that the four-week average declined is yet another sign of progress. With wages rising and our unemployment rate back below 5 percent for the first time since the pandemic struck, it is clear that our economy is getting back to normal despite the global challenges posed by the Delta variant,” Biden said in the statement. “I have said from the beginning that we cannot fully bring our economy back unless we beat the pandemic — and here, too, we are seeing encouraging signs. As vaccination requirements have gone into effect, more and more Americans are getting vaccinated. In fact, we now have 66 million eligible Americans that are unvaccinated, down from almost 100 million in July. We are making important progress against the Delta variant, and our economy is gaining strength in turn.”
The president again lauded a supposed “historic economic recovery” and used this “success” to justify his “Build Back Better” agenda.
“With both COVID-19 cases and unemployment claims declining, it is clearer than ever that America is in the midst of an historic economic recovery — one that continues to lead the world. The first half of this year saw our economy grow at the fastest rate in four decades. The last three months have seen the largest fall in long-term unemployment since we began keeping records in 1948,” he said. “And with an average of 600,000 new jobs created each month since I took office, we have dramatically outpaced the previous record of job growth under a new president. But to transform this historic momentum into a sustained economic boom, it is critical that we take action now to invest in our nation and our people. We must pass both the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act and the Build Back Better Act to strengthen the foundations of our economy, revitalize our middle class, and position America to compete and win for decades to come.”
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