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Connecticut workers are quitting their jobs. Employers are holding on tight to who’s left.

A "now hiring" sign is posted in the window of a restaurant in Los Angeles, California.
Frederic J. BROWN
Getty Images
A "now hiring" sign is posted in the window of a restaurant in Los Angeles, California on January 28, 2022.

New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released this week show Connecticut had more job openings and fewer layoffs than any other time in the last two decades.

The numbers come after two years of pandemic-related economic disruptions, and show an economy where employers are struggling to fill vacant positions and employees are seeking new opportunities en masse as part of the so-called Great Resignation.

BLS said Thursday 7,000 workers in the state were let go in December, while 110,000 jobs were open. Both numbers are records for the Department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), which has been tracking job data for just over two decades.

With local layoffs at a 21-year low, Steven Lanza, economics professor at the University of Connecticut said that “firms are just very, very reluctant to let workers go.” Nationally, he said layoffs and discharges reached recorded lows, too.

About 39,000 Connecticut workers quit in December. That’s down slightly from the previous record-breaking November when 47,000 Connecticut workers quit their jobs and 4.5 million workers quit nationwide.

Employers have good reason to hold tight, JOLTS data show the labor market is competitive. Connecticut employers sought a record-high number of workers, with 110,000 openings in December, giving workers a lot of options. “It’s really a seller’s market,” Lanza said, “it’s a really good market if you’re in the market for a job.”

“Workers realize they can quit their jobs and easily find another position,” Lanza said, “so that just gives them all the more incentive.” That trend slowed down locally and nationally in December, but Lanza said the labor market is still seeing historically high levels of people quitting their jobs.

On the other side, hires remained robust in December with a small dip from the month before.

Lanza said that small decrease suggests that the rise in COVID cases from the Omicron variant didn’t have too significant an impact on the labor market. But JOLTS data was measured on December 12, just prior to the peak in Omicron cases, so he said next month’s report will tell the full story.

He said the pandemic’s effect on work can be seen throughout the labor market as workers quit jobs and employers try to hold on.

“There’s a lot of structural changes going on in the economy that are contributing to the size of the job openings that we’re seeing,” Lanza said.

Ali Oshinskie is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. She loves hearing what you thought of her stories or story ideas you have so please email her at aoshinskie@ctpublic.org.

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