By Nathalie Voit

The number of workers who quit their jobs in November increased 3.0% to a record high of 4.53 million, the Department of Labor said Jan. 4.

The quits level, or the number of voluntary separations initiated by the employee for the month, broke September’s 4.36 million high. The quits rate matched September’s 3.0% series high as a percentage of total employment.

In November, resignations in the food services and accommodation industry led to the 370,000 increase in quits, with 159,000 workers leaving their positions. The health care and social assistance industry followed suit, with 52,000 workers abandoning their jobs. The third industry with the most quits for the month was transportation, warehousing, and utilities, which saw 33,000 workers resigning.

The job openings rate decreased to 6.6%, down from 6.9% in October but still way ahead of the 4.5% recorded last year.

Job openings fell by 529,000 to 10.56 million on the last day of November, the department said in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover report. That number was below analyst expectations who had forecast about 11 million vacancies, according to economists polled by Reuters.

However, the number of available jobs was still ahead of the 6.88 million total unemployed persons looking for work during the month, according to the department’s nonfarm payroll report for November.

Total separations, including quits, layoffs, and discharges, increased by 382,000 to 6.3 million, driven by November’s record surge in quits.

Hiring remained little changed at 6.7 million and 4.5%, BLS said.

“The Great Resignation shows no sign of abating, with quits hitting a new record. The question is why, and the answers are for starkly different reasons,” said a corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union, Robert Frick. “COVID-19 burnout and fear are continuing, but also, many Americans have the confidence to quit given the high level of job openings and rising pay.