Women walk past by a “Now Hiring” sign outside a store on August 16, 2021 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
UPDATED 2:04 PM PT – Wednesday, December 1, 2021
A rising number of Americans are quitting their jobs, adding to labor shortages as part of the supply chain crisis.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of self-employed Americans has increased by half-a-million people. The data shows 9.44 million Americans were self-employed in October, showing an increase from the 8.78 million the year prior.
That same month, the U.S. Census recorded 432,000 applications to start a new business. Many economists suspect Americans are quitting their jobs due to fears of returning to the workplace post-pandemic, desire for job flexibility and persistently low wages.
“The service jobs that you mentioned have obviously become less desirable. They’re relatively low pay, but they’ve become more concerning. The total value of the compensation when you’re taking more risk goes down, so people are trying to move out of those jobs,” said Professor Kevin Lang at the Boston University School of Economics.
Meanwhile, many of those who quit their jobs have been choosing not to work at all, as the labor participation rate fell with just 61 percent of working age Americans being gainfully employed in October.
“The recent rise in COVID-19 cases and the emergence of the Omicron variant pose downside risks to employment and economic activity, and increased uncertainty for inflation,” said Fed Chair Jerome Powell.
He added great concerns lie with Americans’ unwillingness to work in-person, which he said would slow progress in the labor market and intensify supply chain disruptions. Powell noted the Fed would do “everything we can to support a full recovery in employment and achieve our price-stability goal.”