Reminder: The Millennial Job Hopper Is a Mythical Creature

Reminder: The Millennial Job Hopper Is a Mythical Creature

It never hurts to be reminded that not everything you hear about millennials is true: In fact, most stereotypes about this generation turn out to be incorrect. Looking at US and European labor market data, the Economist is the latest to realize that in the US at least, millennials aren’t doing much job-hopping after all:

Data from America’s Bureau of Labour Statistics show workers aged 25 and over now spend a median of 5.1 years with their employers, slightly more than in 1983 (see chart). Job tenure has declined for the lower end of that age group, but only slightly. Men between the ages of 25 and 34 now spend a median of 2.9 years with each employer, down from 3.2 years in 1983.

This finding is old news to readers of Talent Daily or our research at CEB, now Gartner: A Pew study debunked the millennial job-hopper based on Labor Department data earlier this year, whereas a Namely survey released this summer found that tenures were shortening, but that older employees were job-hopping as much as millennials were.

What our research has found is that millennials do value a range of experiences early in their careers, but don’t necessarily feel the need to change jobs as long as they are getting that range of experiences and building that range of skills with one employer. As such, they value employers with significant internal mobility and internal labor markets, and if they are hopping from one organization to another, it’s because the first organization wasn’t meeting their needs in terms of learning and growth opportunities. This is one of several millennial myths we busted in our research back in 2014.

The situation is somewhat different in western Europe, the Economist notes, citing data from the OECD showing that average job tenure has increased overall but decreased for younger workers in the region’s core economies, but “it is far from clear that this is by the young workers’ choice.” Indeed, many European millennials are trapped in the gig economy, hoping for full-time jobs that offer secure employment and income, but instead getting by with freelance or gig work while those jobs elude them. This trend has motivated the European Commission to explore possibilities for regulating the gig economy, given concerns over its social impact.