By Justin Lahart Dec. 7, 2016 3:05 p.m. ET
One sign the labor market is warming up is more people are telling the boss to take this job and shove it. But their willingness to do that depends a lot of on what kind of work they doa difference that has implications for labor costs, and for what areas of the economy are likely to generate inflation.
As part of its monthly report on job openings and labor turnover, the Labor Department on Wednesday reported that the private-sector quits ratethe share of workers voluntarily quitting their jobscame to 2.3% in October. That compares with a low of 1.4% in September 2009, and is close to the average levels of the mid-2000s. A higher quits rate (which excludes retirees), is a sign of a more vibrant job market: People tend not to quit their old job if they dont think they can get another one.
Not everyone is quitting like they used to, however. The quits rate for service-sector workers has mounted a strong recovery. But the rate for workers in goods-producing industriesmanufacturing, construction, mining and logginghasnt gained back as much ground. At 1.5%, it is well below the high of 2% it ticked in the mid-2000s.And because fewer people work in these industries, the absolute number of people quitting is even lower.
Goods-sector workers dont have much leverage to ask for higher wages. Since wages feed into prices, the divide between hotter services inflation, and colder goods inflation, may only get wider.
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