An unprecedented 4.5 million U.S. workers quit their jobs in November, including roughly 920,000 from accommodation and food services, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The 920,000 voluntary quits in November represents almost 7 percent of the food and beverage workforce, by far the most among categories listed by the BLS. The number of quits is a 25 percent increase from October.
The numbers appear in-line with a Joblist survey released in October. The study interviewed more than 25,000 job seekers and found 58 percent of hospitality workers planned to quit before the end of 2021. One-third reported being “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with their jobs. Forty-two percent said they were satisfied, compared to 64 percent prior to the pandemic.
Meanwhile, accommodation and food services hired 1.079 million workers in November, only 4,000 more than October. Operators hired 8.1 percent of the segment's total workforce during the month.
Food and drink places ended November with 1.3 million job openings, meaning the segment is missing about 8.9 percent of its total workforce. That's an improvement from October, when there were 1.57 million job openings and the industry was missing 10.5 percent of its workforce.
"Accommodations and foods services continues to be a key sector to watch," Elise Gould, a senior economist with Economic Policy Institute, wrote on Twitter. "While jobs openings decreased in November, hires held steady as quits continued to rise. Hiring remains higher than quits suggesting that some who quit may be finding better opportunities within the sector."
Economists have dubbed the movement, "The Great Resignation," and in response, restaurants like McDonald's, Chipotle, and Starbucks, have focused heavily on improving recruitment and retention tools to battle for workers in the tight labor pool.
That goes for both hourly workers and managerial staff. Taco Bell offers general managers at company-run stores a base pay of $80,000, with potential to earn up to $100,000 with bonuses, and Chipotle noted in May that hourly workers have an opportunity to advance to “Restaurateur,” a six-figure general manager position, in just three and a half years.
“The Great Resignation shows no sign of abating, with quits hitting a new record. The question is why, and the answers are for starkly different reasons,” Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union, said in a statement. “COVID-19 burnout and fear are continuing, but also, many Americans have the confidence to quit given the high level of job openings and rising pay.”
It's important to note that November data does not account for the rise in Omicron cases in the U.S., which have pushed daily COVID cases to record-breaking levels and put customer-facing workers—like restaurant employees—at greater risk.