June 9, 2021

4 million Americans quit their jobs in April — a 20-year record.

[Business Insider, Getty Images]

The retail sector is in the middle of a massive labor shortage.

  • About 4 million workers in the US quit in April, a 20-year record, the Labor Department said.
  • There were 9.3 million job vacancies at the end of April, another 20-year record.
  • Job vacancies rose the most in the accommodation and food-service sectors.

Job vacancies rose to a 20-year high in April, the Labor Department said on Tuesday.

The department also said 4 million workers had quit their jobs in April, another 20-year record. Job quits rose the most in the retail sector and in professional and business services.

Companies were advertising 9.3 job million openings at the end of April, up 12% from the previous month, the department said. The number of vacancies grew most in the accommodation and food-service sectors, which are opening up after more than a year of COVID-19 restrictions.

Vacancies fell in educational services and mining and logging.

The job-openings rate — job openings as a percent of total jobs plus vacancies — was up to 6%.

The Labor Department started keeping job-openings records in 2000.

Businesses have reported severe labor shortages in recent weeks. The US Chamber of Commerce last week described the shortage as a “national economic emergency” that posed “an imminent threat to our fragile recovery.”

The shortage has given many workers the confidence to leave their jobs. Insider recently spoke with some workers who’d “rage quit” their jobs in search of better pay and working conditions. The pandemic encouraged many people to reevaluate what they want from their work.

Fares on the ride-hailing apps Uber and Lyft surged by as much as 40% in April from the same time last year, a research firm found, thanks to a driver shortage.

In a survey conducted in May by the National Community Pharmacists Association, four in five local pharmacies said they’d struggled to find enough people to do things like deliver prescriptions and run cash registers.

By Anna Cooban

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