EBRI: Job Tenure Ticking Up, But Gender Gap Disappearing

The median length of time that full-time workers stay in their jobs ticked up slightly in 2010, to just over five years, continuing a slow increase in job tenure that began in 2004, according to a new report in the December issue of EBRI Notes.

However, the EBRI analysis shows there are significantly different long-term trends by type of worker. For instance, job tenure for men has been falling since 1983, while women’s tenure has been rising over that period, to the point where the once-big gender gap in job tenure has almost closed. Because women’s tenure has been increasing while men’s tenure has been falling, the overall job tenure rate has been relatively stable.

EBRI also found that older workers appear to be staying in their jobs longer. But overall, the results show that the American work force over the past three decades has always had a high level of turnover—and probably will in the future as well.

“For the great majority of American workers, so-called ‘career jobs’ never existed, and they certainly do not exist today,” said Craig Copeland, EBRI senior research associate, and author of the study. “A distinct minority of workers have ever spent their entire working career at just one employer.”

The findings are published in the December EBRI Notes, “Job Tenure Trends, 1983–2010,” and are based on the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey.

The full report is online here. The press release is online here.

Media coverage:


Kansas City Star

New EBRI IRA Database Finds Owners With Multiple IRAs Raise Average Balance by 25%

A new and unique EBRI database on individual retirement accounts (IRAs) — just released — for the first time will allow researchers to more accurately measure IRA assets and ownership across multiple data providers, and to track retirement assets as they move through different types of retirement plans.

For instance, the EBRI IRA DatabaseTM finds that when owners of more than one IRA are identified and their assets are combined, their total IRA balance is about 25 percent higher than the unaggregated account average within the database.

The press release is online here. The full report is published in the September 2010 EBRI Issue Brief, “IRA Balances and Contributions: An Overview of the EBRI IRA Database,” and is online here.

IRA Balance by Type and Gender

The EBRI IRA DatabaseTM is unique in that it can link the accounts of individuals with more than one account in the database, thus aggregating total IRA assets and giving a more realistic picture of their IRA-based retirement savings. Not only will EBRI be able to link individuals within and across data providers in the database, but in the near future it will also be able to link the data with participants in 401(k) plans, allowing retirement funds to be tracked as they are generated, rolled over, and ultimately used. The data security techniques used by data providers assure that EBRI has no ability to identify individuals, so that all privacy is assured.

“IRAs are an incredibly important piece of the retirement puzzle, since they hold the largest single share of the $13 trillion in U.S. retirement assets,” said Craig Copeland, senior research associate at EBRI and author of the study. “This new database will allow us to generate unique and extremely valuable information about how Americans are using IRAs, including rollover IRAs which hold funds that were accumulated in employment-based defined benefit and defined contribution plans, for retirement.”

The full report provides data on the four major types of IRAs, average and mean balances (including by gender), contributions and rollovers, and owners who max out on their IRA contributions.

New York Times: EBRI’s Data on Income of the Elderly

The New York Times today (June 11), in its “Economix” column, reproduces several key graphs from the June 2010 EBRI Notes, on “Income of the Elderly Population Age 65 and Over, 2008.”  The article and figures are on the Times’ website here.

The article notes that EBRI’s data reveal “one particular challenge to cutting entitlements…older Americans gets the lion’s share of their income — nearly 40 percent — from Social Security, a share that an aging populace will likely be loath to shrink.” The full EBRI Notes article is online here.