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    Job Openings in U.S. Rose to Record in March

    A government survey released Tuesday showed a record number of job openings, with 11.5 million positions listed as available in March, underscoring the continuing strength of the labor market.The number of “quits” — a measurement of the amount of workers voluntarily leaving jobs — also reached a high, an indicator that many workers are confident they can leave their jobs and find employment that better suits their desires or needs.The data released by the Labor Department as part of its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS report, is a fresh indicator of the anomalous nature of the economy as it recovers from the pandemic recession. A resurgence of household spending and business investment is colliding with a messy reordering of the supply of goods and labor.Labor force participation has quickly recovered, nearing prepandemic rates, but has failed to keep up with the surge in job opportunities over the past year as business owners expand to meet the demand for a variety of goods and services.After a sharp climb last year, job openings plateaued somewhat. The March reading suggests that the decline in acute coronavirus concerns among experts and the average consumer — paired with the rolling back of public health restrictions and the start of the summer hiring season — is increasing businesses’ appetites for more workers. Layoffs and discharges remained uncommon, and relatively flat compared to the previous month, at 1.4 million.The Federal Reserve is raising the cost of borrowing as part of an effort to cool consumer spending, business lending and demand for workers. Markets expect the Fed to announce a half-percentage point increase in its benchmark interest rate on Wednesday.The State of Jobs in the United StatesJob openings and the number of workers voluntarily leaving their positions in the United States remained near record levels in March.March Jobs Report: U.S. employers added 431,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 3.6 percent ​​in the third month of 2022.Job Market and Stocks: This year’s decline in stock prices follows a historical pattern: Hot labor markets and stocks often don’t mix well.New Career Paths: For some, the Covid-19 crisis presented an opportunity to change course. Here is how these six people pivoted professionally.Return to the Office: Many companies are loosening Covid safety rules, leaving people to navigate social distancing on their own. Some workers are concerned.Andrew Patterson, a senior international economist in Vanguard’s Investment Strategy Group, argued this strong report from the Labor Department on the eve of the central bank’s rate decision gives officials “more cover to continue to raise rates” and remove its longstanding financial support of the economy “expeditiously,” as the Fed chair, Jerome H. Powell, has said in recent weeks.Overall, even in an environment of higher borrowing costs, the remarkably robust desire among businesses to expand their work forces could help economic activity plow through the twin challenges presented by inflation, which is at a 40-year high, and the discombobulation of global supply chains compounded by coronavirus outbreaks in Asia and war in Eastern Europe.“If there’s something that’s going to cause a recession, it will be from some outside, exogenous shock,” said Nick Bunker, an economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab, a group that analyzes world labor markets. “It won’t be household spending.”Anonymized credit card data collected by Bank of America shows that even households with an annual income below $50,000 have about twice the savings they did before the pandemic. Still, a Gallup survey released last week found 46 percent of Americans rated their personal finances positively, down from 57 percent last year, when families were freshly benefiting from rounds of federal aid and inflation remained tame.Employers have been rankled, too, complaining of labor shortages as millions of workers — energized by the discussion about “essential work” during the pandemic and buoyed by savings — experience a degree of bargaining power they haven’t had in decades.That has led to a tense, politically charged dynamic in which wage pressures are a broadening complaint among large and small businesses trying to maintain their profit margins, even though jumps in pay haven’t generally kept up with price increases.“We’re learning a lot about how structurally fragile our economy is,” said Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve economist. She cited a dependence on “endless low-wage workers and just-in-time supplies of goods” for keeping consumer prices depressed for many years.The employment cost index, which tracks wages and benefits, jumped by the most on record in the first quarter of this year, according to Labor Department figures released last week. Still, a recent analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank in Washington, concluded that roughly 54 percent of the overall increase in prices in the nonfinancial corporate sector since the second quarter of 2020 could be attributed to an expansion of profit margins, while labor costs were responsible for less than 8 percent of price increases. The analysis indicates that 38 percent of the uptick stems from nonlabor input costs, such as overhead, fuel or raw materials.That data complicates the increasingly popular narrative that the spikes in worker pay are mostly to blame for the severity of price increases, rather than a wider mix of reasons.“Normally, you’d expect profits to decrease during a period of high inflation,” said Tony Roth, the chief investment officer of Wilmington Trust Investment Advisors, an arm of M&T Bank. The reason the opposite has happened for many companies over the last couple of years is, he said, straightforward: “Businesses are doing it because they can get away with it.”The economy, while strong, may be locked in a vexing, self-reinforcing cycle for a while: The continued wave of household spending has often signaled to businesses that they had room to raise prices without consequence — allowing executives to hire more workers while maintaining profitability.Until more consumers balk at heightened price levels, it’s unclear where prices and demand will find an equilibrium.Mr. Roth said his financial firm, like most others, was advising clients to invest in companies that still had a large amount of “pricing power” — meaning that they can raise prices without dampening demand for what they sell, either because the good or service is particularly desirable or because it is essential to the buyers’ life routines or business needs. More

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    Workers Are Still in High Demand, Department of Labor Reports

    Job openings last month remained near record levels, and the number of workers voluntarily leaving their positions increased, the Labor Department said on Tuesday.The data, released as part of the agency’s monthly report on job openings, layoffs and quitting, serve as indicators of how much demand there is for workers in the U.S. economy and the extent to which employers are still struggling with labor shortages months after the economy began recovering from the pandemic’s worst damage.There were about 11.3 million job openings in February, essentially the same as the month before and down a little from a record in December, though the number of hires overall edged up by 263,000 last month, to about 6.7 million.After falling during the peak of Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020, the rates at which so-called prime-age workers — those aged 25 to 54 — are working or seeking work has rallied back to prepandemic levels. Yet with the economy growing faster than in decades, demand for labor has outpaced the availability of workers — at least at the wages and benefits employers are offering.There are still roughly three million or so people who have not returned to the work force, according to the government data.“Looking at how poorly our labor force has grown so far this year, if companies want to win the war for talent they need to engage the people who may not be actively seeking work right now, or be the first option people see when they do return,” Ron Hetrick, a senior economist at Emsi Burning Glass, a data and research company, wrote in a note.That echoes the sentiment of many unions and labor activists, who have been saying that even though wage growth has picked up, people aren’t feeling valued enough by employers. It’s led to fresh questions about how bosses might get to know the “love language” of their hires and find sometimes unconventional ways to show them that they care. There are also more straightforward requests: Several progressive economists have noted that employers could, for instance, take some jobs generally expected to be low-wage — such as fast food service and cashiers — and entice workers by offering higher pay and better benefits.Large public companies and small businesses alike often say that they have already substantially raised pay from before the pandemic and that with inflation raging at highs unseen since the early 1980s, raw material and other costs have made business more difficult. An expensive surge in commodity markets suggests that price increases for food and energy could worsen, especially if firms raise prices further.Still, despite widespread frustration with inflation and shortages of some products and materials, some surveys suggest businesses are becoming more optimistic about the future. The MetLife and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index recently reached a pandemic-era high, with about three in five of the small business owners surveyed saying their business is in good health. More

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    U.S. Employers Still Scrambling to Fill Vacancies, Report Shows

    Job openings in the United States and the number of workers quitting their jobs remained near record highs in January, an indicator of demand for labor and of worker leverage.The data, released by the Labor Department on Wednesday as part of its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS report, was another sign of an economy that wobbled slightly yet remained sturdy when faced with the Omicron wave of the coronavirus this winter.Job openings dipped to 11.3 million, down slightly from a record in December, but were still up about 61 percent from February 2020.In a potential sign of the impact wrought by the variant’s spread, several industries that had been rebounding from the pandemic, and had been most hungry for workers, reported fewer job openings. Accommodation and food services experienced a drop of 288,000. Transportation, warehousing and utilities reported 132,000 fewer openings. But openings continued to increase in both manufacturing and the service sector at large.Some 4.3 million people left their jobs voluntarily in January, edging down somewhat from the record 4.5 million who quit in November. While layoffs picked up slightly in January, they were still hovering above historical lows.For Jeffrey Roach, the chief economist at LPL Financial, the most fascinating current in the labor market is the increased share of workers who are quitting jobs not to make a career change but simply to achieve higher pay.“You can see people are actually staying within their industry — and it really helps the ‘lower-skilled’ worker,” he said. “I think we’ll continue to see really high churn rates.”The share of Americans in their prime working years — ages 25 to 54 — who were either working or looking for work plummeted in 2020, yet it has recovered to a rate of 79.5 percent, within 1 percentage point of prepandemic levels, a much faster rebound than occurred after the last downturn.The prevailing environment is likely to increase the price of labor — a welcome development for workers who have dealt with stagnant wages and a lack of power for decades, and an unsettling one for employers as high inflation increases the cost of doing business.Some business executives and managers have expressed concern — in corporate earnings and in private calls — that “wage inflation” could set in and cut into profits if the rapid wage gains that workers achieved last year don’t taper off.“When it comes to their business, they’re very concerned about it: What does that mean to their margins going forward? What kind of pricing power do they have?” said Steve Wyett, chief investment strategist at BOK Financial, a regional bank based in Oklahoma, where unemployment is notably low at 2.8 percent. “How do we protect ourselves against this?”Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta shows that workers who quit to take other jobs are receiving larger pay increases than those who are staying put, though much of this movement is in lower-wage sectors.After the Labor Department’s employment survey showed strong wage gains in January, hourly earnings were nearly flat in February. And even if wage gains stay strong, they remain far from runaway levels.Fed data shows that median annual pay increases in the American labor market have been well within the range — 3 to 7 percent — that prevailed from the 1980s until the 2007-9 recession. More

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    Why the January Jobs Report May Disappoint, and Is Sure to Perplex

    The January jobs report is arriving at a critical time for the U.S. economy. Inflation is rising. The pandemic is still taking a toll. And the Federal Reserve is trying to decide how best to steer the economy through a swirl of competing threats.Unfortunately, the data, which the Labor Department will release on Friday, is unlikely to provide a clear guide.A slew of measurement issues and data quirks will make it hard to assess exactly how the latest coronavirus wave has affected workers and businesses, or to gauge the underlying health of the labor market.“It’s going to be a mess,” said Skanda Amarnath, executive director of Employ America, a research group.Data for the report was collected in mid-January, near the peak of the wave of cases associated with the Omicron variant. There is no question that the surge in cases was disruptive: A Census Bureau survey estimated that more than 14 million people in late December and early January were not working either because they had Covid-19 or were caring for someone who did, more than at any other point in the pandemic.Understand Inflation in the U.S.Inflation 101: What is inflation, why is it up and whom does it hurt? Our guide explains it all.Your Questions, Answered: We asked readers to send questions about inflation. Top experts and economists weighed in.What’s to Blame: Did the stimulus cause prices to rise? Or did pandemic lockdowns and shortages lead to inflation? A debate is heating up in Washington.Supply Chain’s Role: A key factor in rising inflation is the continuing turmoil in the global supply chain. Here’s how the crisis unfolded.But exactly how those disruptions will affect the jobs numbers is less certain. Forecasters surveyed by Bloomberg expect the report to show that employers added 150,000 jobs in January, only modestly fewer than the 199,000 added in December. But there is an unusually wide range of estimates, from a gain of 250,000 jobs to a loss of 400,000.The Biden administration and its allies are bracing for a grim report, warning on Twitter and in conversations with reporters that a weak January jobs number would not necessarily be a sign of a sustained slowdown.Economists generally agree. Coronavirus cases have already begun to fall in most of the country, and there is little evidence so far that the latest wave caused lasting economic damage. Layoffs have not spiked, as they did earlier in the pandemic, and employers continue to post job openings.“You could have the possibility of a payroll number that looks really truly horrendous, but you’re pulling on a rubber band,” said Nick Bunker, director of economic research for the job site Indeed. “Things could bounce back really quickly.”Still, the January data will be unusually confusing because Omicron’s impact will affect different particulars in different ways.Two Measures of EmploymentThe number that usually gets the most attention, the count of jobs gained or lost, is based on a government survey that asks thousands of employers how many employees they have on their payrolls in a given pay period. People who miss work — because they are out sick, are quarantining because of coronavirus exposure or are caring for children because their day care arrangements have been upended — might not be counted, even though they haven’t lost their jobs.Forecasting the impact of such absences on the jobs numbers is tricky. The payroll figure is meant to include anyone who worked even a single hour in a pay period, so people who miss only a few days of work will still be counted. Employees taking paid time off count, too. Still, the sheer scale of the Omicron wave means that absences are almost certain to take a toll.The jobs report also includes data from a separate survey of households. That survey considers people “employed” if they report having a job, even if they are out sick or absent for other reasons. The different definitions mean that the report could send conflicting signals, with one measure showing an increase in jobs and the other a decrease.Inflation F.A.Q.Card 1 of 6What is inflation? More

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    Job Openings Remained Elevated in December Despite Omicron Surge

    The Omicron variant of the coronavirus has disrupted business and kept millions of people home from work. But in December, at least, it did little to cool off the red-hot job market.Employers posted 10.9 million open jobs in the last month of 2021, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That was up modestly from November, and close to the record 11.1 million openings in July. There were roughly 1.7 job openings for every unemployed worker in December, the most in the two decades the government has been keeping track.Lots of jobs, not enough workersThere were nearly 11 million jobs posted in December and fewer than 7 million unemployed workers, the highest ratio in the two decades the government has been keeping track.

    Notes: Unemployment figures adjusted to account for workers misclassified as employed. Data is seasonally adjusted.Source: Labor DepartmentBy The New York TimesForecasters had expected the jump in coronavirus cases to lead to a pullback in recruiting, and a slowdown is still possible. Nationally, coronavirus cases did not reach their peak until mid-January, and they are still rising in some parts of the country. Job postings on the career site Indeed, which tend to track the government’s data relatively closely, remained high through much of December but fell in January.The virus kept millions of workers home in December and January, leaving many businesses short staffed and forcing some to close or limit their hours. That probably forced some companies to postpone hiring. Employers might have also found it harder to hire because some people were unwilling to look for or start new jobs as virus cases rose, or unable to do so because of child care obligations.But there is little evidence so far that Omicron has derailed a strong job market. Employers laid off or fired just 1.2 million workers in December, the fewest on record. The difficult hiring environment may have led some companies that normally shed temporary workers after the holidays to hold on to them this year, said Diane Swonk, chief economist for the accounting firm Grant Thornton.“Companies kept their seasonal hires,” she said. “One, because it’s already a labor shortage. And two, because they had so many people out sick that they wanted to keep people on.”Many workers are taking advantage of their leverage by seeking out better jobs. More than 4.3 million workers quit their jobs voluntarily, down a bit from November but still near a record.With workers scarce and employees in the driver’s seat, companies are raising pay. Wages and salaries rose 4.5 percent in the final three months of 2021, according to separate data released by the Labor Department last week. Wages are rising fastest in sectors where labor is particularly scarce, such as leisure and hospitality.Economists will get a more up-to-date snapshot of the labor market on Friday, when the Labor Department releases data on job growth and unemployment in January. Forecasters surveyed by FactSet expect the report to show that employers added 165,000 jobs. But Omicron has created an unusual amount of uncertainty, and some economists believe the report could show a net loss of jobs last month. More

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    Job Openings Report Shows Record Number of Workers Quit in November

    The number of Americans quitting their jobs is the highest on record, as workers take advantage of strong employer demand to pursue better opportunities.More than 4.5 million people voluntarily left their jobs in November, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That was up from 4.2 million in October and was the most in the two decades that the government has been keeping track.The surge in quitting in recent months — along with the continuing difficulty reported by employers in filling openings — underscores the strange, contradictory moment facing the U.S. economy after two years of pandemic-induced disruptions.

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    Number of People Who Quit Jobs by Month
    Note: Voluntary quits, excluding retirements, seasonally adjustedSource: Bureau of Labor StatisticsBy The New York TimesMuch of the discussion about the increase in quitting, sometimes referred to as the Great Resignation, has focused on white-collar workers re-evaluating their priorities in the pandemic. But job turnover has been concentrated in hospitality and other low-wage sectors, where intense competition for employees has given workers the leverage to seek better pay.“This Great Resignation story is really more about lower-wage workers finding new opportunities in a reopening labor market and seizing them,” said Nick Bunker, director of economic research at the Indeed Hiring Lab.For some workers, the rush to reopen the economy has created a rare opportunity to demand better pay and working conditions. But for those who can’t change jobs as easily, or who are in sectors where demand isn’t as strong, pay gains have been more modest, and have been overwhelmed by faster inflation. Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta shows that job-switchers are getting significantly faster pay increases than people who stay in their jobs..css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-1kpebx{margin:0 auto;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1kpebx{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1kpebx{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-1kpebx{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-1gtxqqv{margin-bottom:0;}.css-1g3vlj0{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-1g3vlj0{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-1g3vlj0 strong{font-weight:600;}.css-1g3vlj0 em{font-style:italic;}.css-1g3vlj0{margin-bottom:0;margin-top:0.25rem;}.css-19zsuqr{display:block;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}Faster pay increases and faster inflation are both at least partly a result of the remarkable strength of the economic recovery. After collapsing in the first weeks of the pandemic, consumer spending quickly rebounded and eventually reached record levels, helped by hundreds of billions of dollars in federal aid. Businesses, whipsawed by the sudden reversals, struggled to keep up with demand, leading to supply chain snarls, labor shortages and rising prices.The stubborn nature of the pandemic itself contributed to the problems, upending spending patterns and keeping workers on the sidelines.

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    Number of Job Openings Per Month
    Note: Seasonally adjustedSource: Bureau of Labor StatisticsBy The New York TimesThere are signs that the worst of the turbulence was beginning to ease late last year. The number of job openings posted by employers fell in November, the Labor Department said Tuesday, though it remained high by historical standards. Hiring picked up, too. Earlier data showed that more people returned to the labor force in November, and various measures of supply-chain pressures have begun to ease.But that was before the explosion in coronavirus cases linked to the Omicron variant, which has forced airlines to cancel flights, businesses to delay return-to-office plans and school districts to return temporarily to remote learning. Forecasters say the latest Covid-19 wave is all but certain to prolong the economic uncertainty, though it is too soon to say how it will affect inflation, spending or the job market.Despite the demand for workers and the pay increases landed by some, Americans are pessimistic about the economy. Only 21 percent of adults said their finances were better off than a year ago, according to a survey released Tuesday — down from 26 percent when the question was asked a year earlier, even though, by most measures, the economy had improved substantially during that period. The survey of 5,365 adults was conducted last month for The New York Times by Momentive, the online research firm formerly known as SurveyMonkey.Overall consumer confidence is at the lowest level in the nearly five years Momentive has been conducting its survey. Republicans have been particularly pessimistic about the economy since President Biden took office a year ago, but in recent months, Democrats, too, have become more dour. Other surveys have found similar results.Inflation appears to be a big reason for people’s dark outlook. Most respondents in the Momentive survey said inflation had not yet had a major effect on their finances. But nearly nine in 10 said they were at least “somewhat concerned” about inflation, and six in 10 said they were “very concerned.” Worries about inflation cross generational, racial and even partisan lines: 95 percent of Republicans, 88 percent of independents and 82 percent of Democrats say they are concerned.“Pretty much the only group of people who say they’re better off now than they were a year ago are people who’ve gotten a pay raise that matches or beats inflation,” said Laura Wronski, a research scientist at Momentive.There aren’t many of them. Only 17 percent of workers say they have received raises that kept up with inflation over the past year. Most of the rest say either that they have received raises that lagged price increases or that they have received no raise at all; 8 percent of respondents said they had taken a pay cut.Government data likewise shows that, in the aggregate, prices have risen faster than pay in recent months: The Consumer Price Index rose 6.8 percent in November, a nearly four-decade high; average hourly earnings rose 4.8 percent in November, and other measures likewise show pay gains lagging price increases.Yet some workers are seeing much faster wage growth. Hourly earnings for leisure and hospitality workers were up 12.3 percent in November, much faster than inflation. Workers in other low-wage service sectors are also seeing strong gains.Businesses in Brooklyn advertised open positions.Gabby Jones for The New York TimesIn the Momentive survey, respondents who reported voluntarily changing jobs during the pandemic were more likely to say their wages had kept up with inflation, and more likely to rate the economy highly overall. Those who were laid off during the pandemic, or who have kept the same job throughout, were less likely to say their wages had kept pace.Somer Welch, a 40-year-old survey respondent in Maine, lost her job in the pandemic when the brewpub where she worked shut down. She has since found a job at another restaurant, but her earnings haven’t fully rebounded. Her husband, who works at a local ship builder, has kept his job throughout the pandemic, other than a brief furlough, but he hasn’t gotten a raise.The result: The family is losing ground relative to inflation.“The cost of things rose, our rent increased, while our income decreased,” Ms. Welch said. The couple was able to build up some savings early in the pandemic, but that rainy-day fund has been largely depleted. “The rainy day came a lot sooner than we expected,” she said.Ms. Welch isn’t ready to join the ranks of the quitters. She likes her job and its flexible hours. But she knows there are better-paying jobs out there, she said, and she will consider making a move if rising prices make it hard to afford basic needs for her four-person family.Workers like Ms. Welch might have leverage in theory, said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at the career site Glassdoor. But to take advantage of that leverage, they have to be willing to use it.“At a time when employers are competing and raising wages so quickly, if you’re not switching jobs right now then you can get left behind by the market,” Mr. Zhao said.Mr. Zhao said it wasn’t clear whether concerns about inflation were directly contributing to people’s decision to switch jobs. But mentions of “inflation” in reviews on Glassdoor by companies’ current or former employees were up 385 percent in December from a year ago.About the survey: Data in this article came from an online survey of 5,365 adults conducted by the polling firm Momentive from Dec. 14 to Dec. 19. The company selected respondents at random from the nearly three million people who take surveys on its platform each day. Responses were weighted to match the demographic profile of the population of the United States. The survey has a modeled error estimate (similar to a margin of error in a standard telephone poll) of plus or minus 2 percentage points, so differences of less than that amount are statistically insignificant. More