More workers are quitting their jobs, and in May employee separations hit their highest level since 2001.
The 15-year high in employees ditching their current jobs is a good sign, said Travis Laird, vice president at Robert Half International (NYSE: RHI) in Phoenix. Robert Half is a big headhunting and employment services firm.
Laird said higher resignation rates — which totaled 5.3 million nationally in May — shows workers are finding other jobs sometimes with better pay or better growth opportunities.
“They’re just more comfortable in exploring or leaving an organization,” he said.
That, in turn, shows some strength in the job market and economy.
Laird also said he’s seeing more employee movements in the Phoenix market, which he called an “employee-friendly market.”
Part of that is companies moving new operations here and others ramping up jobs in sectors such as finance, insurance, real estate and construction.
Arizona led the nation in adding finance and insurance jobs in the first quarter, according to Lee McPheters, an economist at Arizona State University’s W.P Carey School of Business.
State Farm, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) and Toyota Financial Services, for example, have been growing in the Phoenix market.
Business services, manufacturing and construction added a combined 4,600 jobs in Arizona in June, according the latest state employment data from the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity.
Those companies are recruiting and attracting workers.
A recent report by commercial real estate firm CBRE Group Inc. (NYSE: CBG) found large job announcements in the Phoenix region totaled 11,440 jobs in the first half of this year. That is up 71 percent from 2016 and includes the likes of Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS) announcing expansions here.
The UPS jobs are part of a new high-tech distribution center planned in Goodyear with a focus on e-commerce in the age of Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN).
Amazon has 7,000 employees here.
Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) also plans on shifting jobs to Mesa from Seattle. Boeing already has 8,000 workers in the East Valley.
Laird said he’s seen a 4 percent year-over-year jump in wages and employers are having to come in with faster and more competitive job offers to prospects.
Phoenix has a 4.5 percent unemployment rate, according to June state jobs numbers. That is up from 4.3 percent in May but down from 4.9 percent a year ago.
And, that still makes for a pretty tight labor market. The U.S. unemployment rate is 4.4 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In May, U.S. employers hired 5.5 million workers nationally. That’s the most since 2004.
Mike Sunnucks writes about stocks and financial markets, real estate, government and sports business.