The BLS released a longitude survey, which tracks the last of the pack of baby boomers and their jobs over 30 years. One the most damning findings is how many people middle aged are lasting in a job. When late baby boomers were in their 40's, a third of them had jobs which didn't last a year and almost 70% of 'em were out of a job in less than five years. Over half of people ages 40-46 were out of a job in less than two years.
Among jobs started by 40 to 46 year olds, 33 percent ended in less than a year, and 69 percent ended in less than 5 years.
Clearly gone are the days of stable employment from these results. Disposable worker syndrome is happening to everyone, not just the young and newly hired.
The BLS longitude survey, from where these results originate, tracks people over time surveying their work life. These are not jobs where one got a promotion within the company. The BLS counts the jobs by employer, establishment, not position. Here are more details on the Longitude survey:
These findings are from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979; a survey of 9,964 men and women who were ages 14 to 22 when first interviewed in 1979 and ages 45 to 53 when interviewed most recently in 2010-11. These respondents were born in the years 1957 to 1964, the latter years of the "baby boom" that occurred in the United States from 1946 to 1964.
Another frightening fact from the study are wages. Earnings have stagnated. Instead of seeing increased salaries and wages as one becomes experienced as a worker, raises and increased income literally disappears. Ain't that grand? We all know the more one does a job, the better one gets at it. Yet across the board by education levels, wages and salaries become flatter and flatter as times marches on. From the report:
The inflation-adjusted earnings of these workers increased most rapidly while they were young. Hourly earnings grew by an average of 6.3 percent per year from ages 18 to 24 and 4.1 percent per year from ages 25 to 29. The earnings growth rate slowed to 3.2 percent annually from age 30 to age 34 and 3.1 percent annually from age 35 to age 39. From ages 40 to 46, hourly earnings grew an average of 0.9 percent per year. Earnings growth was minimal (.2 percent) for 40-to 46-year-olds with less than a high school diploma. This pattern in earnings growth reflects, in part, the state of the U.S. economy during the years in which survey participants were in each age group. For men and women in nearly every age category, growth rates in inflation-adjusted hourly earnings generally were higher for workers with more education.
People are holding an amazing number of jobs as well. From working ages 18 to 46, on average, workers held an astounding 11.3 jobs. From ages 18-24 the average person held 5.5 jobs, age 25-29, three more. By the time people are 30, they still are running through jobs, just at a slower pace. Ages 30-34 held 2.4 jobs, ages 35-39, it's 2.1 jobs over five years and from ages 40 to 46 people had an average of 2.1 jobs.
It's understandable those between ages 18 to 24 hold 5.5 jobs, but round robin job hopping is clearly going throughout working life and probably not always by choice. The study shows something else, the term permanent employee is an oxymoron, there is no such animal. This Russian roulette, always churning, never ending worker carousel reduces overall earnings, makes stability elusive and assuredly increases stress.
Another damning note is people were not working 22% of the time. On average, people were employed 78% of the time, in weeks, between ages 18 to 46.
There are more results on the BLS release that show it does not matter if one has a college degree or not, worker churn is clearly going on these days. Literally we are experiencing and watching the demise of the American worker and the erosion of the U.S. culture of work by these results.