Job Tenure Trends: Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Do you think the world is changing concerning how long people stay in the same job? Are there generational differences between Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Zers? In this article, we look at some available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and take note of the trends it illustrates. Also, note that different sources may cite different age ranges for generations.
This graph from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the trend of U.S. employment through December 2022. The biggest phenomenon was the downward dip known as the Great Resignation, reflecting quit rates starting in the spring of 2021 and peaking in November of 2021. The Great Resignation has since been redubbed the Great ReShuffle, as some workers have found alternate employment that accommodates their desire for “new collar work” offering better, more flexible, and higher-paid jobs.
The labor force has drastically changed over the past several decades, and a new report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) sheds light on how different each generation’s employment experience is. While Generation Z, Millennials, Gen Xers, and Boomers all have unique stories when it comes to job changes, one thing remains true: each group’s current working landscape is shaped by its collective history.
Born between 1996 and 2015, Generation Z is the youngest cohort in the workforce today and has come of age during a period of economic flux. Gen Z workers tend to be ambitious, creative, and independent. They value diversity and inclusivity in the workplace and are likely to look for an employer that shares their values. Gen Z is also the most tech-savvy generation yet, which has resulted in them being open to more flexible working arrangements. They prioritize job satisfaction over money and often want to pursue a career in something they’re passionate about. Additionally, Gen Z wants opportunities for growth and development, such as professional training or remote work.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job tenure for Gen Z workers to be much shorter than for previous generations. This can be attributed to their desire for more flexible working arrangements and the ready availability of technology-driven jobs. According to a 2020 study, Gen Z workers will stay in a job for an average of one year and eight months, which is significantly shorter than the five years it takes most Millennials to leave a job. Additionally, another study found that three-quarters of Gen Zs expect to make a job change within two years of entering the labor market.
Millennials are generally defined as those born between 1981 and 1996. They tend to value job satisfaction and work-life balance over money when it comes to their career goals. They are looking for employers that share their values, offer flexible working arrangements, and provide opportunities for growth and development. Additionally, Millennials often have short job tenures due to their preference for pursuing challenges and opportunities for professional growth, which leads them to explore multiple jobs over the course of their lifetime.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the median job tenure for Millennials in 2022 will be around five years, which is increasing compared to prior years. This is likely due to the overall improvement in job security and wages associated with this demographic group over the past several years as Millennials become more experienced.
Generation X (born between 1965-1980) is often described as independent, self-reliant, and resourceful. They are also known for being loyal and having a strong work ethic. Gen Xers tend to be highly motivated, goal-oriented, and open to change in the workplace. Generation Xers have experienced much more gradual changes in employment trends than either Millennials or Generation Z. Despite experiencing an especially tumultuous 2008 recession—with unemployment rising to nearly 9% at its peak—Gen Xers have managed to better sustain their workforce presence than most other generations due to their continued focus on professional development and stability. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average tenure for Gen Xers in 2022 was estimated to be 7.8 years. This is up from 6.4 years in 2014, indicating a significant increase in job stability for this generation.
Finally, we look at Baby Boomers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job tenure for Boomers (born 1946-1964) remains steady in 2022 at about 8.4 years. Since 2002, this age group has consistently had higher job tenure than younger adults (ages 16–34). Boomers continue to impact the workforce today by staying on the job longer than previous generations. Many Boomers are choosing to delay their retirement, either because they are not yet financially prepared or because they are simply not ready to leave the workforce. A full 24 percent of people aged 55-64 are employed full-time compared to 18 percent ten years ago—a 6-point increase.
Generational Integration in the Workplace
As the workplace undergoes an intergenerational shift with Generation Z integrating with Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers, employers need to consider workplace benefits, policies, and communications thoughtfully. The different age groups bring their own set of values, expectations, and work styles. To foster collaboration and create an environment where everyone can thrive, employers must be prepared to recognize each generation’s strengths and weaknesses to provide personalized support tailored to employees’ needs.
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