NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Job Tenure Stable

February 21, 1998

There is little evidence that the length of job tenure in the U.S. is declining. New research by David Newmark of Michigan State University, Daniel Polsky of the University of Pennsylvania and Daniel Hansen of Laurits R. Christensen Associates suggests job tenure in America has hardly altered since the 1980s.

  • They found that workers were slightly more likely than before to be with their current employers after four years, but marginally less likely still to be there eight years later.
  • Whereas 53.6 percent of workers with a given company in 1987 were still there in 1991, the four-year retention rate rose to 54.4 percent in 1991-95 -- if the figures are adjusted to allow for the business cycle.
  • The eight-year retention rate fell from 36.8 percent in 1983-91 to 34.7 percent in 1987-95.

A similar study in Great Britain revealed that workers there stayed somewhat longer in their jobs than their American counterparts. Both countries are relatively free of strict labor laws.

In Italy, where labor regulations are far more onerous, the proportion of workers over 25 who hold the same job for more than five years is somewhat lower than the tenure of British workers. Italian women, however, hang on to their jobs longer than British women.

Source: "The End of Jobs for Life?" The Economist, February 21, 1998.


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