U.S. Job Tenure Ticks Up, But Still Short

Blog.Notes.Dec12-Tenure.Pg1 Americans who have jobs are staying in them longer as overall job tenure in the United States ticked up in 2012, but U.S. job tenure is still shorter than many assume.  The median (mid-point) length of time on the job for American workers in 2012 is just 5.4 years, according to new research from EBRI.

“Career-long jobs never existed for most workers,” said Craig Copeland, EBRI senior research associate and author of the report. “Historically, most workers have repeatedly changed jobs during their working careers, and all evidence suggests that they will continue to do so in the future.”

The EBRI report reveals that the historical data show that the U.S. workforce has always had relatively low median tenure: The idea of holding a full-career job and retiring with the proverbial “gold watch” is a myth for most people.

Copeland added that the overall trend of higher job tenure masks a small but significant decrease in median tenure among men (despite its increasing in recent years), which has been offset by an increase in median tenure among women. He added that the once-striking gap between long-tenure public and private sector workers is beginning to narrow.

The full report is published in the December 2012 EBRI Notes, “Employee Tenure Trends, 1983-2012,” online at www.ebri.org