Economic News Release

Number of Jobs Held, Labor Market Activity, and Earnings Growth Among the Youngest Baby Boomers: Results from a Longitudinal Survey Summary

For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Tuesday, March 31, 2015                          USDL-15-0528

Technical information: (202) 691-7410  •  nls_info@bls.gov  •  www.bls.gov/nls
Media contact:         (202) 691-5902  •  PressOffice@bls.gov


                      NUMBER OF JOBS HELD, LABOR MARKET ACTIVITY, AND
                     EARNINGS GROWTH AMONG THE YOUNGEST BABY BOOMERS:
                           RESULTS FROM A LONGITUDINAL SURVEY


   Note: This news release was reissued on April 1, 2015, to correctly refer to the 
   latter years of the baby boom as 1957-1964 under the Percent Growth in Real
   Earnings section. No other data were affected.



The average person born in the latter years of the baby boom (1957-1964) held 11.7 jobs from
age 18 to age 48, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nearly half of these jobs
were held from ages 18 to 24.

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 47 to 56 when interviewed
most recently in 2012-13. 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. The survey spans more
than three decades and provides information on work and nonwork experiences, education, training,
income and assets, health, and other characteristics. The information provided by respondents,
who were interviewed annually from 1979 to 1994 and biennially since 1994, can be considered
representative of all men and women born in the late 1950s and early 1960s and living in the
United States when the survey began in 1979.

This release of the latest data from the longitudinal survey focuses on the number of jobs
held, job duration, labor force participation, and earnings growth. Highlights from the survey
include:

 •	Individuals born from 1957 to 1964 held an average of 11.7 jobs from ages 18 to 48.
        These baby boomers held an average of 5.5 jobs while ages 18 to 24. The average fell
        to 3 jobs from ages 25 to 29, to 2.4 jobs from ages 30 to 34, and to 2.1 jobs from ages 35
        to 39. From ages 40 to 48 the average person held 2.4 jobs. Jobs that span more than
        one age group were counted once in each age group, so the overall average number of
        jobs held from age 18 to age 48 is less than the sum of the number of jobs across
        the individual age groups. (See table 1.)

 •	Although job duration tended to be longer the older a worker was when starting the job,
        these baby boomers continued to have large numbers of short-duration jobs. Among jobs
        started by 40 to 48 year olds, 32 percent ended in less than a year, and 69 percent
        ended in fewer than 5 years. (See table 2.)

 •	The average person was employed during 78 percent of the weeks from age 18 to age 48.
        Generally, men spent a larger percent of weeks employed than did women (84 percent 
        versus 71 percent). Women spent much more time out of the labor force (25 percent of
        weeks) than did men (11 percent of weeks). (See table 3.)

 •	The average annual percent growth in inflation-adjusted hourly earnings grew the most
        during a workers late teens and early twenties. Growth rates in earnings generally
        were higher for college graduates than for workers with less education. (See table 5.)

Number of Jobs Held

Individuals held an average of 11.7 jobs from ages 18 to 48, with nearly half of these jobs held
before age 25. In this news release, a job is defined as an uninterrupted period of work with
a particular employer. (See the Technical Note for additional information on the definition of a
job.) On average, men held 11.8 jobs and women held 11.5 jobs from age 18 to age 48. Men held 5.7
jobs from age 18 to age 24, compared with 2.4 jobs from age 40 to age 48. The reduction in the
average number of jobs held in successive age groups was similar for women. (See table 1.) 

On average, men without a high school diploma held 12.9 jobs from ages 18 to 48, while men with a
bachelor's degree held 11.2 jobs between these ages. In contrast, women without a high school
diploma held 9.6 jobs from ages 18 to 48, while women with a bachelor's degree held 12.5 jobs 
between these ages.

From age 18 to age 24, whites held more jobs than blacks or Hispanics. On average,
whites held 5.7 jobs between the ages of 18 and 24, while blacks held 4.6 jobs and Hispanics 
held 4.9 jobs. From age 25 to age 48, there was no significant difference in the average
number of jobs held by whites and the average number of jobs held by blacks or Hispanics.

Duration of Employment Relationships

The length of time a worker remains with the same employer increased with the age at which the
worker began the job. Of the jobs that workers began when they were 18 to 24 years of age, 69
percent of those jobs ended in less than a year and 93 percent ended in fewer than 5 years.
Among jobs started by 40 to 48 year olds, 32 percent ended in less than a year and 69 percent
ended in fewer than 5 years. (See table 2.)

Percent of Weeks Employed, Unemployed, and Not in the Labor Force

On average, baby boomers (born 1957-1964) were employed during 78 percent of all the weeks
occurring from age 18 to age 48. They were unemployed--that is, without jobs but seeking
work--5 percent of the weeks. They were not in the labor force--that is, neither working
nor seeking work--18 percent of the weeks. (See table 3.)

The amount of time spent employed differed substantially between those without a high school
diploma and those who had graduated from high school or attained higher levels of education.
Individuals with less than a high school diploma (as of the 2012-13 survey) spent 60 percent
of weeks employed and 32 percent of weeks out of the labor force from age 18 to age 48. By
comparison, high school graduates spent 77 percent of weeks employed and 18 percent of weeks
out of the labor force, while those with a bachelor's degree or higher spent 84 percent of
weeks employed and 14 percent of weeks out of the labor force.  

White high school graduates with no college were employed a higher percentage of weeks and out
of the labor force a smaller percentage of weeks than similarly educated blacks or Hispanics.
Between the ages of 18 and 48, white high school graduates with no college spent 80
percent of weeks employed and 16 percent of weeks out of the labor force, while similarly
educated blacks spent 66 percent of weeks employed and 24 percent of weeks out of the labor
force and Hispanic high school graduates with no college spent 73 percent of weeks
employed and 22 percent of weeks out of the labor force. Among those with a bachelor's degree
or higher, however, there was little difference among racial and ethnic groups in labor market
attachment; each group spent between 83 percent and 85 percent of weeks employed.

The amount of time spent in the labor force differs by sex, with women at every educational
level spending fewer weeks in the labor force than men. Overall, men were out of the labor
force 11 percent of weeks from age 18 to age 48; at these same ages, women were out of the
labor force 25 percent of weeks. Women's labor force participation increased with their
education level. Women without a high school diploma spent almost half (48 percent) of
all weeks between age 18 and age 48 out of the labor force, while those with a high school
diploma were out of the labor force 26 percent of weeks, those with some college were out
of the labor force 22 percent of weeks, and women with a bachelor's degree or more were out
of the labor force only 18 percent of weeks. Among men, those without a high school diploma
were out of the labor force about 20 percent of weeks, while men in the top three
education categories were out of the labor force only 9 percent to 11 percent of weeks.
(See table 3.)

The labor force participation patterns of men and women differed. For both groups, time spent
out of the labor force was greatest between the ages of 18 and 24, reflecting the transition
from education and training to the work force. For women, time spent out of the labor force
decreased in each successive age range, from 30 percent of weeks between the ages of 18
and 24 to 21 percent between the ages of 40 and 48. In comparison, men were out of the
labor force fewer than 8 percent of weeks from age 25 to age 39; from age 40 to age
48, they increased their time out of the labor force to 10 percent of weeks. So while the
percent of weeks out of the labor force trended in different directions for the two sexes
after age 24, women in each age range still spent an average of two to three times as many
weeks out of the labor force as their male counterparts. (See table 4.) 

The percentage of weeks in which women were employed increased steadily from 63 percent in
the 18 to 24 age group to 76 percent in the 40 to 48 age group. The percentage of weeks in
which men were employed increased from 73 percent in the 18 to 24 age group to a peak of 89
percent in the 35 to 39 age category and then decreased slightly to 86 percent in the 40 to
48 age group. (See table 4.)

Percent Growth in Real Earnings

The inflation-adjusted earnings of workers born in the latter years of the baby boom (1957-1964)
increased most rapidly while they were young. Hourly earnings grew by an average of 6.2 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 3.3 percent annually from age 30 to age 34 and 3.1 percent annually from age 35
to age 39. From ages 40 to 48, hourly earnings grew an average of 0.7 percent per year. In every
age category, growth rates of inflation-adjusted hourly earnings generally were higher for
workers with more education. Earnings growth for 18 to 24 year olds with less than a high school
diploma was 3.0 percent, while those with a bachelor's degree or more saw their earnings grow by
9.4 percent at the same ages. Earnings growth was stagnant (0.0 percent) for 40- to 48-year-olds
with less than a high school diploma while earnings among those with a bachelor's degree or more
increased by 1.3 percent at the same ages. 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.
(See table 5.)

Additional data are available at www.bls.gov/nls/y79supp.htm.



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Last Modified Date: April 01, 2015
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