The notion that millennials are uniquely prone to job-hopping has always been based more in stereotype than fact, but a new analysis from the Pew Research Center provides yet more reason to doubt this millennial myth. Looking at historical data from the US Department of Labor’s Current Population Survey, Pew’s Richard Fry discovers that millennials don’t seem to be changing jobs any more often than members of Generation X did at the same age. In fact, they appear slightly less likely to leave their employer in less than a year:
In January 2016, 63.4% of employed Millennials, the generation born between 1981 and 1998, reported that they had worked for their current employer at least 13 months. In February 2000, somewhat fewer 18- to 35-year-olds (59.9%) – most of whom are today’s Gen Xers – reported similar job tenure. Looking at young workers with longer tenures, 22% of Millennial workers had been with their employer for at least five years as of 2016, similar to the share of Gen X workers (21.8%) in 2000.
One factor that may be contributing to Millennials staying with employers longer is their relatively high levels of education, which is typically associated with longer tenure. Among 25- to 35-year-old workers in 2016, 38% of Millennial men and 46% of Millennial women had completed at least a bachelor’s degree. The Gen X workforce back in 2000 had significantly lower levels of educational attainment: 31% of male 25- to 35-year-old workers had finished college, as had only 34% of female workers. These college-educated Millennials are sticking with their jobs longer than their Gen X counterparts.
Fry adds, however, that this trend toward longer tenures doesn’t necessarily mean that millennials have better job security or higher incomes. A recent analysis in the US found that millennials were earning lower incomes and accumulating less wealth than their parents’ generation, the baby boomers, were at the same stage of life, while a UK study indicated that millennial men were earning less than their Gen-X counterparts.
So why do many employers still think of millennials as flight risks? In our own analysis of millennial behavior, we have found that while this generation isn’t inherently prone to job-hopping, they do put a particularly high value on a variety of experiences early in their careers. Employers can take advantage of this attribute by building robust internal labor markets that offer millennial employees a range of work experiences and opportunities to learn and grow within the same organization. CEB Corporate Leadership Council members can read more about this and other millennial myths here.