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posted on 25 September 2016

Job Employment Tenure Down

from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

The median number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current employer was 4.2 years in January 2016, down from 4.6 years in January 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

Information on employee tenure has been obtained from supplemental questions in the Current Population Survey (CPS) every 2 years since 1996. The CPS is a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households that provides information on the labor force status of the civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and over. The questions about employee tenure measure how long workers had been with their current employer at the time of the survey. A number of factors can affect median tenure of workers, including changes in the age profile among workers, as well as changes in the number of hires and separations. For further information about the CPS, see the Technical Note in this news release.

Demographic Characteristics

In January 2016, median employee tenure (the point at which half of all workers had more tenure and half had less tenure) for men declined to 4.3 years from 4.7 years in January 2014. For women, median tenure also declined; it was 4.0 years in January 2016, compared with 4.5 years in January 2014. Among men, 29 percent of wage and salary workers had 10 years or more of tenure with their current employer in January 2016, slightly higher than the figure of 28 percent for women. (See tables 1 and 3.)

Median employee tenure was generally higher among older workers than younger ones. For example, the median tenure of workers ages 55 to 64 (10.1 years) was more than three times that of workers ages 25 to 34 years (2.8 years). Also, a larger proportion of older workers than younger workers had 10 years or more of tenure. Among workers ages 60 to 64, 55 percent were employed for at least 10 years with their current employer in January 2016, compared with only 13 percent of those ages 30 to 34. (See tables 1 and 2.)

Among the major race and ethnicity groups, 22 percent of Hispanics had been with their current employer for 10 years or more in January 2016, compared with 30 percent of Whites and 25 percent of both Blacks and Asians. (See table 3.) The shorter tenure among Hispanic workers can be explained, in part, by their relative youth. Forty-four percent of Hispanic workers were between the ages of 16 and 34; by comparison, the proportions for Whites (36 percent), Blacks (40 percent), and Asians (36 percent) were smaller.

In January 2016, the share of wage and salary workers with a year or less of tenure with their current employer was 23 percent, little changed from the proportion in January 2014 (21 percent). This short-tenured group includes new entrants and reentrants to the workforce, job losers who found new jobs during the previous year, and workers who had voluntarily changed employers during the year. Younger workers were more likely than older workers to be short-tenured employees. For example, in January 2016, 74 percent of 16- to 19-year-olds had tenure of 12 months or less with their current employer, compared with 10 percent of workers ages 55 to 64. (See table 3.)

Among workers age 25 and over, men and women with less than a high school diploma had lower median tenure in January 2016 than those with more education. The median tenure for men and women with less than a high school diploma was 4.8 years and 4.4 years, respectively. Men and women with at least a college degree had median tenure of 5.2 years and 5.1 years, respectively. (See table 4.)

Industry

In January 2016, wage and salary workers in the public sector had more than double the median tenure of private-sector employees, 7.7 years and 3.7 years, respectively. One factor behind this difference is age. About 3 in 4 government workers were age 35 and over, compared with about 3 in 5 private wage and salary workers. Federal employees had a higher median tenure (8.8 years) than state (5.8 years) or local government (8.3 years) employees. (See table 5.)

Within the private sector, workers in manufacturing had the highest tenure among major industries, at 5.3 years in January 2016. In contrast, workers in leisure and hospitality had the lowest median tenure (2.2 years). These differences in tenure reflect many factors, one of which is varying age distributions across industries; on average, workers in manufacturing tend to be older than those in leisure and hospitality.

Occupation

Among the major occupations, workers in management, professional, and related occupations had the highest median tenure (5.1 years) in January 2016. Within this group, employees with jobs in management occupations (6.3 years), architecture and engineering occupations (5.5 years), and legal occupations (5.5 years) had the longest tenure. Workers in service occupations, who are generally younger than persons employed in management, professional, and related occupations, had the lowest median tenure (2.9 years). Among employees working in service occupations, food service workers had the lowest median tenure, at 1.9 years. (See table 6.)

[The PDF version of the news release with tables]

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