Everyone knows-or at least thinks they know-that a millennial that has a job is looking for another. It is believed that young people today have little loyalty to their employers and are prone to go from one job to another. Millennials (that is, those born after 1982) are certainly more likely to change jobs than their older colleagues. But it is due more to their age than to the era in which they were born. In the United States at least, the average stay in employment has barely changed in recent decades.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States show that workers aged 25 and over now stay an average of 5.1 years with an employer, a little more than in 1983. Permanence in employment has been reduced in the lower part of the age group, but only slightly. Men between 25 and 34 years now spend an average of 2.9 years with each job, compared to the average of 3.2 years in 1983.
It is the middle-aged men who have changed their relationship with employers more dramatically. Partly because of the collapse in the number of semi-skilled jobs and the decline of unions, the average length of employment in men aged 45 and 54 in the United States fell from 12.8 years in 1983 to 8.4.
This fall has been compensated for by the fact that women stay more in employment and because people retire at an older age, which is why the overall figures have barely changed.
Removals in low
US workers now they are also less likely to move out of the house to find a new job. Less than 12% moved last year, compared to 20% in the 1950s.
This pattern also applies to younger workers: only a fifth of Americans between the ages of 25 and 35 moved out last year; for previous generations the figure was closer to 25%.
A place where it is likely that millennials are changing jobs more often is Western Europe. Data from the OECD show that since 1992 in France, Germany, Italy and Spain, the average permanence in the employment of workers has increased in general, although the terms were shortened in the case of younger workers.
But it is not clear that this is the decision of the young workers. Labor market restrictions in Europe’s main markets have forced an increasing number of workers to accept temporary contracts. More than half of workers between 15 and 24 years old in these four countries are on temporary contracts.
Data on Britain, which has more lax standards in the labor market than continental Europe, give a more complicated picture.
OECD statistics show that the duration of employment has fallen for young Britons. But studies from the Resolution Foundation study center conclude that millennials are actually less likely to leave employment voluntarily than the previous generation.
The British also move less than before. Between 2001 and 2016, the number of workers who changed homes to move from one job to another fell from 0.7% to 0.5%.
For its part, the number of workers who have done so in Britain in recent years has risen again, but remains below the peak reached in 2001.
Some workers go from one new firm to other every six months, or work as freelance employees for Uber. But they are the exception.
A drastic increase in employment exchange rates would probably require an equally drastic increase in labor demand. Those who fear that millennials are too changeable may have too rosy a view of the labor market.