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Economic News Release
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Number of Jobs, Labor Market Experience, and Earnings Growth: Results from a National Longitudinal Survey Summary

For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Thursday, August 22, 2019  	              USDL-19-1520 
 
Technical information:  (202) 691-7410  *  nls_info@bls.gov  *  www.bls.gov/nls
Media contact: 	        (202) 691-5902  *  PressOffice@bls.gov 
 
 
           NUMBER OF JOBS, LABOR MARKET EXPERIENCE, AND EARNINGS GROWTH:
                  RESULTS FROM A NATIONAL LONGITUDINAL SURVEY


Individuals born in the latter years of the baby boom (1957-64) held an average of
12.3 jobs from ages 18 to 52, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Nearly half of these jobs were held from ages 18 to 24. 
 
These findings are from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, a survey
of 9,964 men and women who were ages 14 to 22 when first interviewed in 1979 and
ages 51 to 60 when interviewed most recently in 2016-17. These respondents were
born in the years 1957 to 1964, the latter years of the baby boom that occurred
in the United States from 1946 to 1964. The survey spans 37 years and provides
information on work and nonwork experiences, education, training, income and
assets, health, and other characteristics. The information provided by respondents,
who were interviewed annually from 1979 to 1994 and biennially since 1994, can be
considered representative of all men and women born in the late 1950s and early
1960s and living in the United States when the survey began in 1979. 
 
This release of the latest data from the longitudinal survey focuses on the number
of jobs held, job duration, labor force participation, and earnings growth.
Highlights from the survey include: 
 
   --Individuals born from 1957 to 1964 held an average of 12.3 jobs from ages
     18 to 52. These baby boomers held an average of 5.7 jobs while ages 18 to
     24. The average fell to 4.5 jobs from ages 25 to 34, to 2.9 jobs from ages
     35 to 44, and to 1.9 jobs from ages 45 to 52. Jobs that span more than one
     age group were counted once in each age group, so the overall average number
     of jobs held from ages 18 to 52 is less than the sum of the number of jobs
     across the individual age groups. (See table 1.) 
 
   --Although job duration tended to be longer the older a worker was when starting
     the job, these baby boomers continued to have large numbers of short-duration
     jobs. Among jobs started by 35 to 44 year olds, 36 percent ended in less than
     a year, and 75 percent ended in fewer than 5 years. (See table 2.) 

   --On average, individuals were employed during 78 percent of the weeks from ages
     18 to 52. Generally, men spent a larger percent of weeks employed than did
     women (84 percent versus 72 percent). Women spent much more time out of the
     labor force (24 percent of weeks) than did men (11 percent of weeks). (See
     table 3.)

   --The average annual percent growth in inflation-adjusted hourly earnings was
     highest during a worker's late teens and early twenties. Growth rates in earnings
     generally were higher for workers with a bachelor's degree or higher than for
     workers with less education. (See table 5.) 
 
Number of Jobs Held 
 
Individuals held an average of 12.3 jobs from ages 18 to 52, with nearly half of these
jobs held before age 25. In this news release, a job is defined as an uninterrupted
period of work with a particular employer. (See the Technical Note for additional
information on the definition of a job.) On average, men held 12.5 jobs and women
held 12.1 jobs from ages 18 to 52. Men held 5.9 jobs from ages 18 to 24, compared
with 1.9 jobs from ages 45 to 52. The reduction in the average number of jobs held
in successive age groups was similar for women. (See table 1.)
 
On average, men without a high school diploma held 13.3 jobs from ages 18 to 52, while
men with a bachelor's degree and higher held 11.6 jobs between these ages. In contrast,
women without a high school diploma held 9.9 jobs from ages 18 to 52, while women with
a bachelor's degree and higher held 13.1 jobs between these ages. 
 
From ages 18 to age 24, Whites held more jobs than Blacks, or Hispanics or Latinos.
On average, Whites held 5.9 jobs between the ages of 18 and 24, while Blacks held 4.8
jobs and Hispanics or Latinos held 5.1 jobs. Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics or Latinos
held between 4.3 and 4.6 jobs from age 25 to age 34 and between 2.9 and 3.1 jobs from
age 35 to age 44. From age 45 to age 52, Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics or Latinos all
held an average of 1.9 jobs.

Duration of Employment Relationships 
 
The length of time a worker remains with an employer increased with the age at which
the worker began the job. Of the jobs that workers began when they were 18 to 24 years
of age, 70 percent of those jobs ended in less than a year and 93 percent ended in
fewer than 5 years. Among jobs started by 35 to 44 year olds, 36 percent ended in less
than a year, and 75 percent ended in fewer than 5 years. (See table 2.) 
 
Percent of Weeks Employed, Unemployed, and Not in the Labor Force 
 
On average, the youngest baby boomers (born 1957-64) were employed during 78 percent
of all the weeks from ages 18 to 52. They were unemployed--that is, without jobs but
seeking work--5 percent of the weeks. They were not in the labor force--that is, neither
working nor seeking work--18 percent of the weeks. (See table 3.) 
 
The amount of time spent employed differed substantially between those without a high
school diploma and those who had graduated from high school or attained higher levels
of education. Individuals with less than a high school diploma (as of the 2016-17 survey)
spent 59 percent of weeks employed and 33 percent of weeks out of the labor force from
ages 18 to 52. By comparison, high school graduates spent 76 percent of weeks employed
and 18 percent of weeks out of the labor force, while those with a bachelor's degree and
higher spent 84 percent of weeks employed and 13 percent of weeks out of the labor force.
 
White high school graduates with no college were employed a higher percentage of weeks
and out of the labor force a smaller percentage of weeks than Black and Hispanic or
Latino high school graduates with no college. Between the ages of 18 and 52, White high
school graduates with no college spent 79 percent of weeks employed and 16 percent of
weeks out of the labor force, while Black high school graduates with no college spent 65
percent of weeks employed and 25 percent of weeks out of the labor force and Hispanic or
Latino high school graduates with no college spent 73 percent of weeks employed and 21
percent of weeks out of the labor force. Among those with a bachelor's degree and higher,
however, there was little difference among racial and ethnic groups in labor market
attachment; each group spent between 83 percent and 85 percent of weeks employed.

The amount of time spent in the labor force differs by sex, with women at every educational
level spending fewer weeks in the labor force than men. Overall, men were out of the labor
force 11 percent of weeks from ages 18 to 52; at these same ages, women were out of the
labor force 24 percent of weeks. Women's labor force participation increased with their
education level. Women without a high school diploma spent nearly half (49 percent) of
all weeks between ages 18 and 52 out of the labor force, while those with a high school
diploma were out of the labor force 26 percent of weeks, those with some college were
out of the labor force 23 percent of weeks, and women with a bachelor's degree and higher
were out of the labor force only 18 percent of weeks. Among men, those without a high
school diploma were out of the labor force about 22 percent of weeks, while men in the
remaining three education categories were out of the labor force only 9 percent to 12
percent of weeks. (See table 3.) 
 
While on average women spent fewer weeks in the labor force than men, the labor force
participation patterns of men and women were fairly similar. For both men and women, time
spent out of the labor force was greatest between the ages of 18 and 24, reflecting the
transition from education and training to the work force. For women, time spent out of 
the labor force decreased from 30 percent of weeks between the ages of 18 and 24 to 25
percent of weeks between the ages of 25 and 34 to 21 percent of weeks between the ages
of 35 and 44, and then remained nearly unchanged at 22 percent of weeks between the ages
of 45 and 52.  Men were out of the labor force 18 percent of weeks between the ages of 18
to 24, and then fewer than 9 percent of weeks from ages 25 to 44; from ages 45 to 52, they
increased their time out of the labor force to almost 13 percent of weeks.  So while the
percent of weeks out of the labor force followed a similar trend, within each age range,
women spent more weeks out of the labor force than men. (See table 4.)

The percentage of weeks in which women were employed increased from 63 percent in the
18 to 24 age group to a peak of 76 percent in the 35 to 44 age group and then decreased
slightly to 74 percent in the 45 to 52 age group. Following a similar pattern, the
percentage of weeks in which men were employed increased from 73 percent in the 18 to
24 age group to a peak of 88 percent in both the 25 to 34 and the 35 to 44 age categories.
The percent of weeks employed then dipped to 83 percent in the 45 to 52 age group. (See
table 4.) 

Percent Growth in Real Earnings
 
The inflation-adjusted earnings of workers born in the latter years of the baby boom
(1957-64) increased most rapidly while they were young. Hourly earnings grew by an average
of 6.5 percent per year from ages 18 to 24. The earnings growth rate slowed to 3.3 percent
annually from ages 25 to 34 and then to 2.5 percent annually from ages 35 to 44. From
ages 45 to 52, earnings were stagnant (-0.2 percent). 

In every age category, growth rates of inflation-adjusted hourly earnings generally were
higher for workers with more education. Earnings growth for 18 to 24 year olds with less
than a high school diploma was 2.9 percent, while those with a bachelor's degree and
higher saw their earnings grow by 9.6 percent at the same ages. On average, 45- to 52-
year-olds with less than a high school diploma experienced negative earnings growth (-1.4
percent), while at the same ages earnings among those with a bachelor's degree and higher
increased by 0.5 percent. This pattern in earnings growth reflects, in part, the state
of the U.S. economy during the years in which survey participants were in each age group.
(See table 5.) 
 
Additional data are available at www.bls.gov/nls/y79supp.htm. 



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Last Modified Date: August 22, 2019