(CN) – Despite a marked decline in new job postings in December, the number of people quitting their jobs in search of better opportunities reached a 17-year high, the Labor Department said Tuesday.
According to the government, advertised job openings dropped 2.8 percent to 5.8 million — 4.9 percent higher than in December 2016, but still the lowest number in seven months.
Meanwhile, the department said, the number of people quitting their jobs rose 3.1 percent to 3.26 million, the most since January 2001.
While the departures might create headaches for employers, a rise in the number of people willing to leave existing jobs is generally seen as a positive sign for the economy because it suggests people are confident they can find a better job elsewhere.
The number also suggests employers are offering larger salaries and better benefits and perks to lure people away from their current jobs.
The department noted that there were 1.6 million layoffs and discharges in December, little changed from November. The layoffs and discharges rate was 1.1 percent in December.
The next government survey of job openings and labor turnover, coving Janaury 2018, will be released by the Labor Department on Friday, March 16.