Good News: People quitting their jobs

Call it the "Take This Job and Shove It" indicator. The latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that an increasing number of people are quitting their jobs, a sign of an upturn in consumer confidence and the economy, according to one economist.

"There is one area where there does appear to be some additional risk taking, and that is seen in the number of people leaving their jobs," said Don Rissmiller, economist for Strategas Research Partners. "The last time we saw an inflection point of this sort in the number of people quitting their jobs, we were at the end of the last ‘jobless recovery’ in 2003."

In October 2 million individuals quit their jobs, up from 1.7 million during the same month a year ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. On its web site, the BLS states, "Quits tend to rise when there is a perception that another job is available and tend to fall when there is a perception that jobs are scarce."

The rise in quitting is accompanied by an increase in the job outlook in the latest survey by staffing firm Manpower and an ISM survey of managers indicating bigger capital expenditures planned for next year, Rissmiller points out in his note. Also, shares of staffing firms, such as Robert Half (RHI) and Manpower (MAN), are at 52-week highs, hinting that hiring could be picking up.

This data is in sharp contrast to the scare that traders received last week. Employers added just 39,000 workers in November to their payrolls, much less than economists expected, according to the report out on Friday. The unemployment rate increased to 9.8 percent.

The stock market has been doing more than ok with this jobless recovery, up 80 percent from its 12 ½ year low hit in March 2009. However, investors are starting to indicate they want to see more plans for growth (i.e. hiring) in order to bid shares even higher. Not to mention the boost it would give consumer spending.

"Employment is the US economy’s teeter totter," wrote Brian Belski, Oppenheimer’s Chief Investment Strategist, in his 2011 outlook note released this week. "An employment recovery means the economy is improving, which drives higher incomes, increasing consumption and better overall investor, corporate and public psychology."

The stock market recovered from that poor jobs report to new highs on optimism the tax compromise announced by President Obama would incentivize companies to increase hiring. The deal also includes a payroll tax cut, a direct injection into the public’s wallets.

They could use the money. According to Friday’s jobs report, wages were essentially flat. Higher wages will be necessary as well to keep this recovery going, traders said. And don’t forget, the singer who put "Take This Job and Shove It" on the charts was Johnny Paycheck.

For the best market insight, catch ‘Fast Money’ each night at 5pm ET and the ‘Halftime Report’ each afternoon at 12:30 ET on CNBC. 


John Melloy is the Executive Producer of Fast Money. Before joining CNBC, he was an editor for Bloomberg News, overseeing the U.S. Stock Market coverage team

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