Americans Say 'I Quit' About Every 3-1/2 Years

Julie Shenkman
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The average American changes jobs every 3-1/2 years, according to survey data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), with more than 25 percent of workers starting new jobs within the last 12 months alone.

Moreover, between 1983 and 2000, the proportion of men who stay with a single employer for 10 years or more declined from 37.7 percent in 1983 to 33.6 percent in 2000. Among women, the proportion increased from 24.9 percent to 29.5 percent in the same time period.

The amount of education received also has an impact on how long a person stays in a particular job, the survey data show. For example, people who have not completed high school keep their jobs an average of 3.7 years; people with Master's degrees stay an average of 6.1 years.

The survey data also reveal that the 7.2 years worked by an average government employee is more than twice the 3.1 years that an average private-sector worker stays with the same employer. Government workers also tend to be older. Specifically, 73 percent of government employees are aged 35 or older; 58 percent of workers in the private sector are at least 35.

Longevity in a job also changes with the industry, the data show. For example, people who work in agriculture tend to stay with the same employer 2.2 years. Figures in other industries are:

Manufacturing, 5.0 years;
Transportation, 3.9 years;
Retail trade, 2.0 years;
Business services, 1.5 years.

Also impacting longevity with a single employer is the type of work performed. For example, the survey shows that employees in executive, administrative, and managerial positions remain 5.0 years, on average, with the same employer; engineers stay 4.8 years; college and university teachers stay 4.7 years; lawyers and judges keep their jobs 3.8 years; people in sales occupations remain 2.7 years; and food service workers remain 1.5 years with the same employer.

Note: The BLS uses a median average in its survey analysis, which means half of the responses fall above, and half fall below, the average. It collects its data in a monthly survey of about 50,000 U.S. households. The 2000 figures are based on data collected in February 2000.

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  • Melissa Kennedy
    Melissa Kennedy
    Thanks, Villa. Changing jobs can be tough, but for most people, it's just part of building the right career for them. The days of working with just one company for 30 years is long gone.
  • villa a
    villa a
    Good post. I'm facing a few of these issues as well..
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