Americans quitting their jobs increased by 370,000 to a record 4.5 million in November. The quits rate went up to 3% from 2.8% in October. That matches a previous record high.
The Labor Department said Tuesday that job openings fell by 529,000 to 10.6 million on the last day of November.
Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had predicted a gain of 11.1 million vacancies.
For the fourth consecutive month, the layoffs rate was 0.9%.
In November, the number of jobs increased by 191,000 to 6.7 million. The hiring rate went up to 4.5% from 4.4% in the previous month.
The big picture: workers being able to quit their jobs to take better jobs is a sign of a healthy economy, according to economists. But nothing is simple. Some analysts worry that the high quits rate could lead to higher wage inflation and cause the Fed to step on the brakes to cool the economy.
Experts noted that the large rise in quitting was concentrated in low wage sectors. The Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said last month that the JOLTS data is important for his team as they chart interest-rate policy.
The JOLTS data usually comes out after the government's employment report, but this month the data will be released on Friday. The unemployment rate will drop to 4.1% from 4.2% last month, according to economists. The timing of any Fed rate hike will be a key factor in the health of the labor market.
The Fed is expected to hike interest rates in March and investors are expecting to see a greater than 50% chance of that.
What are they saying? The private sector quits rate hit a new all-time high of 3.4%. Nick Bunker, director of research at Indeed Hiring Lab, said that these conditions are one of the biggest questions for the year ahead.
Market reaction: DJIA, SPX, moved higher at the open on Tuesday on a continuation of the upbeat mood from the strong start to the trading year.