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Job Leavers as a Harbinger of Wage Growth
Friday, Mar 30, 2018

Here's a data point to keep your eye on in the March jobs report: job leavers. After several years of scouring for alternative measures of labor market conditions, one might expect this measure to have gained more prominence, but it remains deeply in the shadow of the better-known quits rate in the JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey) report. Why look at job leavers? It's not just for a sign of work confidence in the labor market. Since switching jobs is one of the fastest ways for a worker to get a raise, this measure should inform expectations for wage growth. Among the unemployed, this group saw an outsize jump in February, alongside new entrants.

As a proportion of total unemployment, new entrants have trended down a bit from their post-recession peak of 12% in September 2014 to 10.5% in February. in contrast, at 11.6%, job leavers remain close to their peak of 12.4% from November 2016. While the overall composition of unemployment hsa looked pretty stable over the last year, as the U.S. has converged on full employment, a sustained rise in the proportion of job leavers coincided with the high watermark of the last business cycle, and we might not see wages take off until that occurs again.

about the author

As chief economist at iCIMS, an industry-leading provider of talent acquisition software, Josh Wright leads a team of data scientists in analyzing emerging trends in the U.S. labor market