Fewer U.S. Workers Quit, Some Supply Snarls Improve

What Tuesday’s Economic Reports Tell Us

Engineers in front of industrial robots.

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The number of workers quitting their jobs fell slightly from record levels and manufacturers showed small signs of supply chain improvement, reports showed Tuesday.

Here’s a quick look at the most significant economic indicators of the day and what they tell us.

Job Openings and the Rate of Quitting 

  • The so-called Great Resignation tapped the brakes slightly in December, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed. Some 4.33 million people quit their jobs, down from 4.5 million in November, the highest since the bureau began tracking it in 2000.
  • The huge number of workers quitting for better jobs these days is a sign of just how much they are in demand, as employers struggle to hire enough workers to fill job openings, which have been hovering at near-record levels for months. There were 10.9 million openings in December, up from 10.8 million in November and just shy of the record high of 11.1 million seen earlier in the year.

Manufacturing Activity

  • A monthly survey of U.S. manufacturing supply executives showed shortages of materials and labor continued to hold manufacturers back in January, but there were some signs of improvement. While supplier deliveries continued to be delayed, they were delayed at a slower rate, and hiring got a bit easier, according to the Institute for Supply Management’s survey.
  • U.S. industry has been grappling with supply line disruptions caused by the pandemic, but ISM officials noted it was the third straight month of progress in labor resources and deliveries, even amid a wave of COVID-19 cases caused by the omicron variant. On the downside, though, prices for raw materials rose again.

Construction Spending

  • Spending on construction rose 0.2% in December, far below the 0.6% economists had expected and the slowest increase since July, the Census Bureau reported. 
  • The sector was boosted by residential construction, which rose 1.1%, but held back by a decline in government spending, which fell 1.6%. Overall, nonresidential construction stagnated.  

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  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Table 4. Quits Levels and Rates by Industry and Region, Seasonally Adjusted.”

  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Job Openings, Hires, and Separations Levels, Seasonally Adjusted.”

  3. Institute for Supply Management. “Manufacturing PMI® at 57.6%; January 2022 Manufacturing ISM® Report on Business.”

  4. Census Bureau. “Monthly Construction Spending, December 2022.”

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