CHICAGO, IL —Analysts said they are stumped about why a record 201,000 Illinois workers quit their jobs in August, even though available job openings are relatively scarce in the state, according to a report by the Illinois Policy Institute.

The trend, analysts said, is likely to prevent Illinois from making substantial progress in closing the recovery gap on jobs with the rest of the nation.

In a report released Monday by the Institute, it was noted that despite a record number of Illinoisans leaving their jobs in August – which equaled 3.5 percent of state employees – the state only ranked 7th worst in the nation during that period, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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The statistics revealed that a record 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August.

The national trend has been deemed by some as “the Great Resignation,” and it has been driven by large spikes in individuals resigning within the accommodation and food service, wholesale and retail trade and state and local government and education sectors.

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In many states and at the national level, analysts said, the job-quitting trend is understandable because there are more job openings than job seekers.

“When there are more job openings than available workers, employers must offer more competitive salaries and benefits in order to attract new employees from a limited pool of workers, often encouraging even those who are gainfully employed to leave their jobs in search of new opportunities,” wrote Bryce Hill, senior research analyst for the Illinois Policy Institute.

However, Illinois is one of eight states that actually has more unemployed individuals than job openings.

Illinois is one of just 8 states that has more unemployed residents than job openings. More: via @BryceTHill #twill
— Illinois Policy (@illinoispolicy) November 2, 2021

“For Illinois, where available job openings are relatively scarce, it is unusual to see such a substantial spike in individuals leaving their jobs,” Hill wrote.

Hill added: “While it is clear Illinois’ sluggish labor market is being driven by a substantial surge in employees quitting their jobs, what is less clear are the reasons why.”

Illinois did continue to grow payrolls and reduce unemployment counts from mid-August to mid-September, according to recent data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state added 9,300 jobs during that month, which caused the unemployment rate to fall from 7 percent to 6.8 percent.

However, Illinois’ unemployment rate continues to lag behind the national rate by two full percentage points and is the sixth-highest in the nation and the highest in the Midwest, according to statistics.

Hill said it’s unlikely that Illinois will be able to make substantial progress in closing the recovery gap with the rest of the nation because new Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey data reveals more Illinoisans are now losing or quitting jobs than are finding them.

According to the survey, for every Illinoisan hired during the month of August, 1.15 Illinoisans were separated from their jobs – one of the highest rates in the nation.

Hill noted that Illinois’ hiring rate of 4.1 percent is only slightly lower than the national average of 4.3 percent.

But the increase in the number of individuals quitting their jobs threatens to set back the state’s recovery, according to Hill.

“With more unemployed Illinoisans than jobs available, it is unclear whether workers will find improved job opportunities or simply fall even farther behind peers in other states,” Hill wrote.

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