Job Study Tells a Terrible Tale for U.S. Workers

The BLS released a longitude survey, which tracks the last of the pack of baby boomers and their jobs over 30 years. One the most damning findings is how many people middle aged are lasting in a job. When late baby boomers were in their 40's, a third of them had jobs which didn't last a year and almost 70% of 'em were out of a job in less than five years. Over half of people ages 40-46 were out of a job in less than two years.


Among jobs started by 40 to 46 year olds, 33 percent ended in less than a year, and 69 percent ended in less than 5 years.

Clearly gone are the days of stable employment from these results. Disposable worker syndrome is happening to everyone, not just the young and newly hired.

The BLS longitude survey, from where these results originate, tracks people over time surveying their work life. These are not jobs where one got a promotion within the company. The BLS counts the jobs by employer, establishment, not position. Here are more details on the Longitude survey:

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 45 to 53 when interviewed most recently in 2010-11. 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.

Another frightening fact from the study are wages. Earnings have stagnated. Instead of seeing increased salaries and wages as one becomes experienced as a worker, raises and increased income literally disappears. Ain't that grand? We all know the more one does a job, the better one gets at it. Yet across the board by education levels, wages and salaries become flatter and flatter as times marches on. From the report:

The inflation-adjusted earnings of these workers increased most rapidly while they were young. Hourly earnings grew by an average of 6.3 percent per year from ages 18 to 24 and 4.1 percent per year from ages 25 to 29. The earnings growth rate slowed to 3.2 percent annually from age 30 to age 34 and 3.1 percent annually from age 35 to age 39. From ages 40 to 46, hourly earnings grew an average of 0.9 percent per year. Earnings growth was minimal (.2 percent) for 40-to 46-year-olds with less than a high school diploma. 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. For men and women in nearly every age category, growth rates in inflation-adjusted hourly earnings generally were higher for workers with more education.

People are holding an amazing number of jobs as well. From working ages 18 to 46, on average, workers held an astounding 11.3 jobs. From ages 18-24 the average person held 5.5 jobs, age 25-29, three more. By the time people are 30, they still are running through jobs, just at a slower pace. Ages 30-34 held 2.4 jobs, ages 35-39, it's 2.1 jobs over five years and from ages 40 to 46 people had an average of 2.1 jobs.

It's understandable those between ages 18 to 24 hold 5.5 jobs, but round robin job hopping is clearly going throughout working life and probably not always by choice. The study shows something else, the term permanent employee is an oxymoron, there is no such animal. This Russian roulette, always churning, never ending worker carousel reduces overall earnings, makes stability elusive and assuredly increases stress.

Another damning note is people were not working 22% of the time. On average, people were employed 78% of the time, in weeks, between ages 18 to 46.

There are more results on the BLS release that show it does not matter if one has a college degree or not, worker churn is clearly going on these days. Literally we are experiencing and watching the demise of the American worker and the erosion of the U.S. culture of work by these results.

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This is what happens when Americans are seen as cogs

This is the norm, where workers are seen simply as replaceable cogs by people in executive positions who see themselves as anything but replaceable because of their egos, being born into wealth, having plundered those below them, etc. The ethos at the top used to be very different, at least a gold watch was obtainable after steady employment for 20+ years. Now, prepare to apply for jobs endlessly in the hopes of lining up a temp job, and then pray that you somehow make enough off those temp jobs so that you can have enough to survive from 30-death, because companies don't like to hire the elderly folks over 30 (apparently we have nothing to offer).
Now sit back and watch the true horror show as society reaps the whirlwind. People won't personally invest in education because it isn't worth the money when people are unemployable after 30 or are seen as overqualified by insecure managers with less education (as well as colleges now in full profit taking mode and not helping at all to ensure American grads find living wage jobs in the US). Tax revenues will continue to fall as fewer people find jobs = fewer public services and a greater tax burden on those who cannot afford to buy tax loopholes (i.e., those without lobbyists). We're seeing the # of municipal bankruptcies increase now, and the pace will quicken. Increasing distrust of anyone in power by an ever-growing number of formerly patriotic citizens that see those in power ignoring their plight and those who do address workers as belittling them, calling them lazy, and then doing everything to further undermine their security (whether through increasing workers from overseas or increasing outsourcing). And a tremendous amount of talent purposely sidelined through churn-and-burn corporate policies and hiring practices (e.g., hiring temp workers that need to move anywhere and everywhere at a moment's notice with no benefits and no job security for minimal wages). You don't need to buy a Masters in Public Policy like many politicians to understand this all leads to breakdowns in families (who can get married and have kids in this scenerio), more mobile and hostile people who see the system rigged against them, and an utter distrust of everyone in power because they obviously couldn't care less about those struggling in jobs or trying to find jobs. Fewer taxes to support those people, while greater burdens on the social system as a result = a Third World USA that could have been saved long ago.

your obervations

brilliant and completely correct. I myself have been ranting on this subject since the late 90's. Unfortunately I believe that we have passed the point of no return, that point at which our once vaunted political/economic system is capable of "self correcting". I'm in my mid sixties and we are one step away from living under a bridge . .and not by our own doing. My kids face an uncertain future at best and that could easily deteriorate into a nightmare. Good post.

what to do

This is one small, obscure statistical release from the BLS and my hair stood on end when I saw over half of people lose their job after just two years in their 40's. That's obscene. But there are so many other elements which show this is true and we cover as much as we can on this site.

The real question is how in God's name to we get the U.S. citizen labor force top priority in U.S. politics. Right now we're cannon fodder.

Neither party cares unless you can buy a $40,000 dinner

Both parties and politicians serve their masters behind the scenes. Current Prez is raising millions more at $40,000/plate dinner tonight in NYC, Romney raising the same today or tomorrow or in his treasury from his father's political career, his own political career (but he's an outsider, no really, he is), or his venture capital/American middle class destroying career. But hey, Romney cares about me, and so does Obama, because they say so, we all have so much in common. Just kidding. Who cares, they're all whores to the $ - that's why they seek political office.
The answers have been repeated ad nauseum for decades, but the best thing is nowadays the same asshats that helped push for destroying the middle class through eliminating Glass-Steagall, pushing NAFTA, outsourcing, etc. now ignore the destruction they caused or say things should be reversed (but without foregoing the hundreds of millions they made in the process, of course). Just look at Greenspan (aka Kermit "My Mumblings are Drops of Wisdom - Trust Me") , Clinton (who still fancies himself a champion of the middle class after NAFTA and getting rid of Glass-Steagall), Sandy Weill, and all the rest from both D & R.

Eventually some of the 99%'s wisdom will be adopted by some clowns who hear the crowd at the gates of Versailles and the Bastille. And then what will these self-promoters/politicians and banksters do? Of course claim full credit for "their ideas." And they'll get rich for stealing and using ideas the average American was espousing for years. But the media and their cronies will pay $300,000/speech to hear these charlatans steal and spout them and buy their books through shady deals that guarantee the books are bestsellers despite their lack of content.

Predictable, just as LIBOR rigging, banksterism in all its forms, laundering money for terrorists and cartels, and every other crime committed by the 1% is not really a crime because it only affects the 99%. Speaking of which, has RBS and JPMorgan and Barclays reached a civil deal yet so that any penalties can be passed on to their customers and CEOs can still make hundreds of millions of dollars through crime? Still waiting for RICO indictments from USDOJ, or Scotland Yard, or the Canadians, or any country affected by this around the globe, any day now, any day . .

Job Insecurity

Nearing the end of my working life, my net worth is $25,000, including checking, savings, retirement fund, car, and motorcycle. I've jumped through the hoops, shown up on time, and strived to do something responsible by teaching people how to use workplace software. I was fired in Mach as part of a "restructuring" of my college, and I anticipate living under a bridge if I live long enough.

The figures in the chart above are not theoretical to me, and, like JD above, I worry that my kids and grandkids face a bleak future. When the owners of the propaganda machines convince millions that workers' unions are inherently bad, those workers are already dead, even if they don't know it yet. I long for the activism of the 1960s and 1970s where real people believed they had the right to be treated with compassion, respect and justice. The new world I see is apparently not brave at all.

A Common Sense solution...

This is why it is imperative the the SS retirement eligibility age (and Medicare)be lowered to 60, TODAY. This would allow those older workers who will not be rehired to survive and and those who want to retire early, to do so. This would open up jobs for younger, healthier, less costly workers. win/win. A "no-brainer". - Shoes4Industry.

Steel Industry

This started in the 1960's when the US abandoned the steel industry here. We've all seen the movies, 'Deer Hunter', 'All the Right Moves' etc.

The only good blue collar jobs in the private sector now are service industry jobs that CANNOT be outsourced and Government union jobs - that's it.

The eroded tax base along with tax gifts for the wealthy have put the crunch on Government union jobs also. It's not some conspiracy against them and this shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that reads.

Without that important working middle class the high paying white collar jobs here will be moved overseas also.

Manufacturing was abandoned here 50 years ago, it just took a long time for people to notice.

a slight correction

> Manufacturing was abandoned here 50 years ago, it just took a long time for people to notice. <

Actually, back when the Dems actually supported working-class people and worked for job expansion, it was the the 1960s, which was 50 years ago. The change started under Carter, but not till Reagan, 30 years ago, did the entirety of the Democratic Party quietly began to support "supply-side economics", and make it profitable with tax policy for manufacturing to be shipped en masse out of the country. The dwindling of the American middle-class began then too, while both parties adopted pro-corporate anti-American economic policies. They needed a figurehead who would protect them---Reagan. It worked. The only thing they did that worked: The destruction of socio-economic equality championed by the late, great New Deal.

Yet a financial analyst is making news for eating Starbursts

Welcome to the new, ever-more disappointing America that makes a mockery of everything we hold (and used to hold) dear. Business Insider, the online site run by guru Blodgett (a securities ban doesn't stop anyone from selling more snakeoil), is covering a fully employed financial analyst who is trying to win $500 by eating 500 Starbusts in 12 hours! This man has a job and is paid well while people with grad degrees are homeless and "overqualified"? And 25+ million of us close to homelessness don't have jobs despite our work ethic, education, and desire to feed ourselves, our families, and rebuild our Nation without the need for attention? I'd ask if this is a joke, but looking around, I know it's not - it's par for the course.

Starbursts? Wow, that is much more important than the impending implosion of the West! Fantastic! Will he do it? Won't he? Who gives a flying Starburst?! Business Insider was also running a "story" on five reasons job candidates don't hear back from companies after applying. Needless to say, the "article" didn't mention: the book by the Penn professor showing the "skills gap" was a lie; companies are looking to reject Americans for H-1B visa abuses; outsourcing; the fact that HR wants to look busy to save their own jobs; companies don't hire personnel that might threaten mediocre managers; HR software has gone horribly awry; age discrimination by HR and CEOs against anyone over 30; etc. It's all unemployed Americans fault, don't ya know?

I hope America never has to fight another war like WWII. Didn't those people building munitions, tanks, airplanes, and everything else necessary without any education or training before WWII know they were incapable of doing those things according to HR and CEOs nowadays? If you weren't working on a farm pre-WWII, how could you do it when farmers shipped off and had to be replaced? Impossible say moronic CEOs. How could people fly planes and shoot Nazis if they weren't flying planes and shooting Nazis before WWII for 3-5 years? Impossible! If someone knew how to fly a plane but was over 30, what could he really bring to the battle against the Axis ask CEOs and DC today. If you weren't in the airborne for 5-7 years and knew French, how could you possibly learn those skills when a war had to be fought? How could you possibly work with the resistance if you didn't have five years of working and leading teams of resistance fighters in France and Greece?! Training could bring anyone up to speed quickly within a few weeks or months if they had an IQ over 100? What's that? Impossible. And that's why CEOs and HR and their puppets should be ignored - they are clueless, and if not clueless, should not be allowed to use sharp objects.

Hi Kurtz, read this

You comment at least once a day and I read every comment. It's great you are here but I request you register and login. The reason is when people register, you bypass all of the security, plus comments then become "mini blogs". You have an account, can track your comments, who has responded and most of all, use full HTML. That means you can post videos, images, links, quotes, whatever you want.

Additionally because comments are "real time", do not go into a moderation queue you can have a real live discussion with others if desired.

You are really adding to this site, so I'm hoping you get an account so you can add more insights.

Comments on here actually have their own RSS feed and they also go out on a separate twitter feed. I keep hoping more people use it because I do my best to give a loud microphone to people, while trying to keep the writing generally up to Professional standards.

Business Insider ALWAYS puts T&A on their site, usually a few mega rich houses and other useless stuff that has nothing to do with most of America and the peril we are in.

Just wish I had the time to work on infrastructure more, needless to say BA has a team of paid web developers.

I own this site so if you're worried about tracking or something, don't. Beyond the infamous Google knows all anyway, I don't sell anything to anyone or any of that evil crud.

job Study

These facts are scary. How many companies are being run by generalists instead of experts? The writer Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes 10,000 hours of intense study and work to become an expert at anything. With this data its safe to assume that most companies are being run by generalists. Another thing missing is passion. How can you develop passion for where you work when you have little evidence that the company intends to keep you or cares for you as a person or a member with upside. It also help develop an attitude of every person for them-self. Back stabbing probably abounds and employee attitudes are about what's in it for me instead of the common good. A sad state of affairs.

Neofeudalism and everything like it is now being promoted

There was a story in Georgia last year, the farmers were saying they couldn't find enough workers to work on their farms after tougher immigration laws were passed, and the Governor started seriously advocating that the unemployed should just go down to the farms and start working. He was also claiming, I believe, people could earn $18/hr. (in what world is that number even possible for unskilled labor on farms?). Well, most of the comments were calling the Governor out. Stating they didn't get a Masters or spend years in a certain industry getting all sorts of credentials to go work as a field hand because the Governor told them to. In addition, people with experience doing hard labor (whether for a short time or as long-term jobs) disputed the wages stated, claimed there was no way it was worth relocating for a seasonal, temp job that wouldn't cover any bills (in addition to covering their current mortgages, rent, etc.) and the fact that people like the Governor, who made big bucks by sitting on his ass and signing papers, would never bust his hump in the fields 10 hours/day in all conditions.
But there were people, of course, stating anyone who protested was lazy and didn't have the right work ethic and should just do it like the Governor said.

So there we have it, we actually have people in 2011, 2012, and many more years to come demanding that people go work in fields for pay that won't cover their expenses or loans or debts at any age and despite any knowledge they could share in a more relevant setting for them personally (e.g., a medical research lab, a hospital, shipyard, a school for those with special needs, and on and on) and just, in essence, shut up and get to work wherever they were told to. No mention is made of people who daily rip off millions and billions that never worked outside in fields or anything approaching jobs that can literally break people (e.g., farmhands, roofing, mining, timber, etc.). Apparently those who are okay with forcing people to work in fields never think those at the top that even created this nightmare should be the first ones to start picking crops. It's always the people that did everything right that are somehow the ones that have to just grin and bear it. Sure, the guy who stole billions from farmers and never faced jail is okay with telling me I need to shut up and just go work on a farm with pay that doesn't cover anything and no benefits? Sounds fair. Oh, the guy who sits in a political office and never worked on a jobsite with 100+ degree heat is telling me I should shut up and do what I did 20 years ago before my degrees? Good enough for me. Is your 60 year old aunt desperate for work? Well tell her to quiet down and go out in the fields and pick those crops - if she can't hack it, we'll just replace her lazy ass. America in 2012, kickin it retrostyle, like America 1850, like England 1100. Who needs historical reenactments when we can bring the whole country back to the past.