Job Leavers as Share of the Unemployed

The figure above shows the percentage of unemployed Americans who quit their last job, by race. For all groups, the share of job quitters took a nosedive during the recession; this is to be expected, because a low rate of job quitting is actually a sign of a weak labor market. When workers feel that there are few job opportunities available to them, they are less likely to quit their jobs, because they know that they are unlikely to find a new one. By contrast, when the economy is strong and the job openings rate is high, we see more workers leaving their jobs:

Job Openings Versus Quits

Even before the recession began in December 2007, unemployed white workers were more likely to have quit their last job than unemployed black workers. The recession only served to further exacerbate this inequity. This can be seen in the table below, which shows that while whites were initially hurt the most by the recession, they have also gained the most from the recovery:

Job Leavers as a Share of the Unemployed (12-month average)

 

Overall

White

Black

Latino

Asian

Rates

January 2007

11.8%

12.1%

10.4%

9.8%

10.7%

Trough

6.0%

5.9%

4.7%

4.8%

5.8%

January 2016

9.9%

10.3%

7.8%

8.8%

9.6%

Changes in Rates

Jan. 2007 to Trough

-5.8 ppt.

-6.2 ppt.

-5.7 ppt.

-5.0 ppt.

-4.9 ppt.

Trough to Jan. 2016

+4.0 ppt.

+4.4 ppt.

+3.1 ppt.

+4.0 ppt.

+3.8 ppt.

Jan. 2007 to Jan. 2016

-1.9 ppt.

-1.9 ppt.

-2.7 ppt.

-0.9 ppt.

-1.1 ppt.

Degree of Recovery

68.0%

70.2%

53.7%

81.1%

78.0%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The job quitters’ share of black unemployment has fallen 2.7 percentage points since January 2007; for the overall population, it has declined just 1.9 percentage points. This can be seen most clearly in the figure below, which shows the percentage-point change since January 2007 in the share of unemployment due to quits for whites, blacks, Latinos, and the overall population:

Job Leavers as Share of the Unemployed,  12-Month Average, Change Since January 2007

This serves as yet more evidence that the weakness of the recovery is hurting black workers the most.