Robert S. Donovan, robertsdonovan.com
Another way to look at the health of the economy is to look at the number of quitters.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released statistics on Tuesday showing the rate of people who left their jobs voluntarily didn't change much in December. The number of people who quit in December was 2.37 million versus the 2.41 million who quit in November.
But, the overall trend, according to Neil Shah at the Wall Street Journal is that quitting is on the increase: "The 'quits rate,' or the number of quits as a share of overall employment, fell to 1.7 percent, from 1.8 percent. This gauge has made considerable progress, rising from a low of 1.2 percent in September 2009, when the economic recovery was just starting, but the latest data suggest improvements remain stop-and-go: We're still well below the average quits rate of about 2.1 percent seen before the recession."
In another blog post from earlier in the week, Shah at the Wall Street Journal explained how having more people willing to voluntarily quit their jobs is a good sign: "When times are good, people quit more because they are more optimistic about their prospects. And often when a worker quits, it creates an opportunity for someone else — a new graduate, say, or a person who lost their job — to find work. Research shows much of the wage growth American workers see over their careers comes from changing jobs."
The Washington Post pointed out that the new head of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, thinks quit rates (as well as other factors such as the number of job openings, the number of long-term unemployed, the number of part-time workers who want full-time work and labor force participation rate) can help give a fuller look at the state of the economy than just focusing on the unemployment rate.
In his blog at the Wall Street Journal, Shah concluded that the quit rates show that "America's labor market is continuing to strengthen at a slow, but steady pace."