About another 2.14 million people quit their jobs in August, down from 2.163 million in the prior month. In total, the rate of separations climbed to 3.3 percent from 3.1 percent.
In the 12 months ended in August, the economy created a net 1.8 million jobs, representing 51.6 million hires and about 49.8 million separations, today’s report showed.
Taking into account the 12.54 million Americans who were unemployed in August, today’s figures indicate there are about 3.5 people vying for every opening.
James McCoy, a 43-year-old from Waretown, New Jersey, is searching for a new position. Having lost his job last month at a Wawa Inc. convenience store where he worked for more than 16 years, McCoy said he has been looking for opportunities online, attending job fairs and going to restaurants and retailers asking about work.
“It’s been tough,” said McCoy, who attributes the difficulty to steep competition and a dearth of available jobs.
“I’ve put in plenty of applications and gotten plenty of rejections,” he said.
While last month’s drop in unemployment was unexpected -- no economist surveyed by Bloomberg projected the rate would fall below 8 percent -- Federal Reserve policy makers have said they would like to see “sustained improvement” in the labor market. The central bank in September said that it would probably hold its target interest rate near zero until at least mid-2015 to stimulate more hiring. The central bank also began a third round of stimulus, buying $40 billion in mortgage bonds a month.
“We’re looking for ongoing, sustained improvement in the labor market,” Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke told reporters following the announcement on Sept. 13. “What we’ve seen in the last six months isn’t it.”
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President Charles Evans has called for accommodation as long as unemployment exceeds 7 percent and the inflation outlook remains below 3 percent. On Sept. 20, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President Narayana Kocherlakota said the central bank should hold rates near zero until joblessness drops below 5.5 percent and inflation doesn’t exceed 2.25 percent.