Millennial workers’ job-hopping trend continues as U.S. labor market tightens

by Wesley Brown (wesbrocomm@gmail.com) 694 views 

A new U.S. Labor Department report posted Tuesday (April 17) indicates that Millennial workers born in the early 1980s held an average of 7.8 jobs before they turned 30, highlighting recent employer concerns that younger workers don’t stay in their jobs as long as their Generation X parents and earlier Baby Boomers.

The report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) culled this and other key findings from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, an ongoing nationally representative survey of about 9,000 men and women who were born during the years 1980 to 1984.

The study’s respondents were ages 12 to 17 when first interviewed in 1997 and ages 30 to 36 when interviewed for the 17th time in 2015-16. The survey provides information on work and nonwork experiences, training, schooling, income, assets, and other characteristics. The information provided by respondents is representative of all men and women born in the early 1980s and living in the United States when the survey began in 1997.

According to the BLS report, individuals surveyed held more jobs at younger ages, and the number of jobs held declined as they grew older. Young adults held an average of 4.6 jobs from ages 18 to 22 compared with 2.2 jobs from ages 27 to 30.

While ages 18 to 30, women with more education held more jobs than women with less education. Regardless of education, men held a similar number of jobs. The BLS report comes as U.S. employer are facing fierce competition to retain younger and older workers in the tight U.S. job marketplace, which has held at a 4.1% jobless rate since November while adding an average of 200,000 jobs per month.

Dr. Curtis Odom, president of Boston-based Stuck on Start Coaching and author of “From Campus to Corner Office,” said employees who fall into the category of millennials often report leaving an employer due to a lack of transparency and communication with bosses or the company as a whole.

“This can be either a lack … of (flexibility) in their current position or that a new opportunity happens to offer a different kind of flexibility that better suits their desired lifestyle,” said Odom. “No matter the cause, it often comes down to the employee simply wanting to be heard — and many times, those questions, thoughts or ideas are worth listening to.”

For companies to attain and retain millennial talent, they must have an understanding of not just their work patterns but the ever-changing culture of today’s new and vastly improved workplace, Odom said.

“It’s very likely that, with how in-tune younger individuals can be with changing workplace dynamics and technologies, the patterns and balance they’re looking for are the direction a company should be considering heading in as well,” said the talent management expert. “It’s also critical that this talent pool feels as though their voice is heard and that their ideas and contributions add value.”

The BLS report further confirms finding from a similar 2016 Gallup poll noted that millennial workers, those born between 1980 and 1996, had garnered a growing reputation of job-hopping and being unattached to organizations and institutions.

That same survey said also noted that 21% of Millennials said they’ve changed jobs within the past year, three times the number of non-Millennials who report the same. Gallup also estimated that Millennial turnover costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually.

Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Randy Zook and other workforce officials recently discussed the inability to hire and keep younger employees on payroll due to high turnover rates and job-hopping.

“Every day, all I hear from our members and Arkansas businesses from across the state is that they need workers,” Zook said at the Chamber’s annual Mid-South Basic Economic Development Course in Little Rock in early April. “Is there anybody here that has plenty of folks that are skilled and ready to go to work that are champing at the bit and will show up three days in a row? This is the universal problem. A lot of chamber people have been beating this drum that we are short (workers) and it is getting worse every day. That is a brutal hard fact to get people to listen to.”

Gov. Asa Hutchinson also told reporters during a pen-and-pad session at the State Capitol on Monday that his administration is looking for better ways train and match younger, able-bodied workers with employers desperate to fill open positions. In February, Arkansas’ jobless rate rose one percentage point to 3.8% as the civilian labor force grew to 1,353,589 workers, up 4,659 from a year ago.

Following are other key highlights from the BLS labor market activity report.
• Americans born in 1980-84 held an average of 7.8 jobs from ages 18 through 30, with over half of these jobs held from ages 18 to 22. Men held an average of 7.7 jobs and women held an average of 7.9 jobs.

• At their 25th birthday, 28% of women had received a bachelor’s degree and higher, compared with 21% of men. By age 31, almost 36% of women held a bachelor’s degree and higher, compared with 28% of men. Seventy-four percent of women had at least attended some college by age 31 compared with 65% of men.

• Fifty-eight percent of jobs started while ages 18 to 24 ended in less than a year, compared with 33% of jobs started while ages 25 to 30. In the older age range, job duration is significantly longer for those with more education. Of jobs started while 25 to 30 years of age, 45% of those started by individuals with less than a high school education lasted less than 1 year compared to 27% for individuals with a bachelor’s degree and higher.

• Women with less than a high school diploma were employed an average of 40% of weeks from ages 18 to 30, while men with less than a high school diploma were employed 64% of weeks. Among individuals with a bachelor’s degree and higher, women were employed an average of 80% of weeks, while men were employed 78% of weeks.

• Individuals were employed for an average of 74% of weeks from ages 18 to 30. This varied across age brackets: from ages 18 to 22 individuals were employed 68% of weeks, from ages 23 to 26 and from ages 27 to 30 individuals were employed 78% of weeks.

• At the time of their 31st birthday, 45% of individuals were married, 19% were cohabiting, and 37% were single. The percent of individuals who were married varied by education; those with higher levels of education were more likely to be married and less likely to be cohabiting than those with lower levels of education.

• Men who were single at age 31 were employed 70% of the weeks from ages 18 to 30, compared with 83% for those who were married and 77% for those who were cohabiting. The percentage of weeks employed did not vary substantially by partner status for women.

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