The dream job of the 1950s looked a lot like wealth Editor William White writes in his classic workplace study Organizer, By mid-century, the burgeoning ranks of white-collar workers were filled with young people who had left their hometowns to join the company. It was an anonymous, bureaucratic turnaround in what was considered a rough-and-tumble individualistic American economy. Employers, in turn, reaped huge profits in the postwar boom and wanted to keep their talent, so offered a steady stream of promotions and carrots, such as health insurance and pensions, to keep people tied to their employers. Then the job hoppers came and made the organization man a thing of the past.

The mainstream media narrative of the past few decades has blamed this problem on the rising stars of Gen Z and millennials, who are often portrayed as mercenary Who kills corporate loyalty – ready to walk away once they don’t get everything they ask for, and the driving forces behind it great resignationquit smoking quietly,” “angry application” and many similar labor trends.

But the federal government itself has released new figures exposing that to be a lie. The original job-hoppers are none other than baby boomers, who change employers at least as often as millennials of the same age, and possibly more often, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Especially men born in the second half of the baby boom era, 1957-1964In a recent report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that by age 34, they already held an impressive 10 jobs, and by age 56, they held an average of 12.7 jobs. As one might expect, the majority of job hopping happens early in their careers, with 18- to 24-year-olds on average making less than one job hop per year, more than millennials in the same age group. And more.

“Early in your career, you scout the job market, look around, see what opportunities are available, and you don’t settle down until you’re in your 30s or 40s. It’s a pattern that’s always been there,” says Dr. Arne Kallberg, a sociologist who teaches at the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill, said.

Indeed, rather than belonging to a particular generation, Job hopping seems to be a by-product of the modern economy: most workers experience it early in their careers (and they often forget what they did as they matured). Just like Gen Z today, millennials and Gen X, and yes, even Baby Boomers have to contend with the accusation that their desire for meaningful work, decent pay, and work-life balance is wrong. reasonable. In fact, Kallenberg said, baby boomers launched a rebellion against their parents’ “organizational person” mentality.

“Young people in the late ’60s and ’70s started criticizing this view of work because it was part of the system. They started rejecting their parents’ materialism and saying, ‘We’re going to find self-actualization,'” says Kallerberg.

“They rejected the idea of ​​working for this person, and that’s what’s happening now,” he added.

more stable than predecessors

If anything, millennials are slower to job-hop than their predecessors.According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, older millennials — those who were born Between 1980 and 1984— By age 28, have an average of seven jobs, one less than baby boomers of the same age. At age 34, millennials have an average of 8.6 jobs, one less than baby boomers of the same age.

Blame it on the financial crisis of 2007, the subsequent Great Recession, and the extremely slow “job recovery” that hit young people the hardest. Job hopping is one of the signs of a strong economy — workers won’t move unless they have somewhere to go. Nick Bunker, chief economist at jobs board Indeed, said that in the decade after the recovery, until the pandemic, “the labor market wasn’t as tight, so people didn’t have as much opportunity to change jobs”.

Another reason, economists say, is that today’s young people spend more time in school and take more time to formally enter the job market, reducing the average number of jobs they hold over a lifetime. High student debt burdens on young graduates may also make them less willing to take the risk of job hopping.

In fact, while some experts today fear that stereotypical young workers are “disengaged” from their employers or “do not see a future,” Gallup wrote In a poll this year, it wasn’t long ago that economists had the opposite concern — that young workers wouldn’t move around enough.

In 2016, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco highlight “job-switching behavior is markedly lower among younger workers,” and ponders whether these workers opt for job security “at the expense of fewer attempts at different jobs.” That same year, another group of Fed researchers highlighted this trend at a Brookings Institution symposium, noticed “Reduced labor market mobility leads to fewer opportunities for workers … and thus could have important implications for the overall macroeconomy.”

No more “organizers”

The data also clearly show that the archetype of the “corporate worker” who works his entire career in one job has diminished significantly as the baby boomers have come of age. To be sure, some baby boomers who started working in the late 1970s and early 1980s have had this steady experience.but it was also ten years brought about massive deindustrialisation, a shift from commodity to commodity service economy, the decline of labor unions that protect workers and encourage corporate loyalty, and mass layoffs as a corporate strategy. (One of the strategy’s early proponents, GE CEO Jack Welch, eliminated A quarter of the company’s jobs According to Quartz, it was the first half of the 1980s. )

Against the backdrop of an increasingly uncertain economy, it should come as no surprise that younger generations are changing jobs less and less. Indeed’s Bunker points out that the decades of the early 2000s when more and more workers stayed put distorted Americans’ perception of a “normal” job market. “We’re so used to quitting and changing jobs being so low that when things go back to 2000 levels (after the pandemic) people get anxious,” he said.

Job hopping has many benefits for workers beyond layoffs. Finding a new job is often the easiest way to get a raise, and according to the report, salaries for people who change jobs consistently rise faster than those who keep the same job. Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that young baby boomers, who switch jobs almost every year at the start of their careers, enjoy a 6.5% annual salary increase. Compensation — the reason most people work — remains a major driver today. When consulting firm McKinsey asked employees why they took new jobs earlier this year, nearly all groups cited the same No. 1 reason: higher wages.

Economists at the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank, said: “Worker mobility — the ability to find and accept another job — is at the heart of worker power.” wrote last year.

Not only that, but according to a recent survey, higher job turnover rates correlate with higher overall economy productivity. work documents Published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

“In the long run, people moving around and finding the best people for their careers is a good thing for productivity,” said Jesse Wheeler, senior economist at business intelligence firm Morning Consult. , we want people to do what they love and do best as much as possible.”


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