The past few months has given workers more power in the labor market. In June, Indiana had about four active job seekers for every 10 job openings, according to new federal estimates released Thursday.
“What's certainly been the case over the last several months is for the most part, the workers have the power in this market,” said Victoria Prowse, Purdue University Magner Chair and professor of economics. “Workers thinking about moving to another job, or unemployed workers thinking about selecting between jobs, by historic standards, really have, at least on paper, a pretty favorable set of options.”
The estimate is part of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). The survey provides a picture of the labor market’s health based on job openings, hires and “separations” – workers getting laid off, quitting, etc.
The number of Hoosier workers quitting their jobs has been higher than the national average, JOLTS estimates show. Though, new preliminary estimates for June may signal the return of more even rates.
The historically low number of layoffs and discharges may be a direct result of the high number of quits, Prowse said, because companies don’t have as much need to lay off people if they’re understaffed and may be more willing to keep workers on board who might otherwise be let go based on performance.
“I would expect going forward that the quit stay aligned with the national average,” Prowse said. We’re not going to be facing really kind of exceptionally high rate of workers quitting their jobs as compared to what we've seen in the past. Potentially that might lead to more layoffs as firms balance the books.”
The state’s 2022 monthly quit rates have been higher than the nation’s, but new estimates bring Indiana closer to falling back in line.
Several companies have given the state notice of plans for major layoffs in the past few months, according to Indiana’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act page.
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Keystone RV Company, for example, plans to close two Goshen plants by Sept. 23 and lay off 332 employees. Penske plans to lay off over 500 workers at its Shelbyville warehouse by Sept. 11, but the company notes some of those employees may be rehired when Kroger takes over the facility.
Prowse’s research partly focuses on the employment decisions people can make. She notes that JOLTS data does not give a sense of the quality and pay of the kinds of jobs people are trading into.
In a December 2021 survey conducted by the Indiana Chamber Foundation, 52 percent of respondents said they were unhappy with their pay. And more than half of those workers said they planned to find a new job in the next year because of that.
Each month’s state data is released publicly two months after, meaning August’s data won’t be available until October. And each release provides a preliminary number that is finalized the month after.
For example, May’s preliminary estimate for total Hoosier quits was originally closer to 100,000 when it was released in July. It was adjusted down to 97,000 in this latest release.