By Anneken Tappe, CNN Business

RALEIGH – Last year was a historic one for American jobs.  A record number of workers quit their jobs while US employers had more positions to fill than ever before.

In December, 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs, down slightly from the record 4.5 million in November, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.  But the quits rate remained about the same, at 2.9%, according to the report.

While millions of workers left jobs for cash incentives, better pay or better benefits, people also left the labor market to care for children or elderly relatives during the pandemic. Meanwhile, older workers retired early either because they could or because age discrimination forced them out of the labor market.

The number of workers quitting last month fell in health care and social assistance jobs, as well as restaurants, hotels and construction.  Quits went up in nondurable good manufacturing.

‘I quit’: North Carolina ranks 9th nationally for worker quit rate

Quitting and employment

Even though a record number of people quit their jobs last year, the US labor market still recorded a net employment gain of 6.4 million.

In total, 75.3 million workers where hired last year, while 68.9 million quit, were laid off or discharged. Out of these so-called separations, 47.4 million were voluntary quits.

In line with that, the number of layoffs hit a new record low at 1.2 million in December, showing that the negative impact from the Omicron variant didn’t fully hit the labor market at the end of last year.

Job openings stood at 10.9 million in December, compared with the data series high of 11.1 million recorded in July.

Vast majority of NC tech execs plan to hire more workers, survey finds