Job Hopping Is NOT On The Rise (And That’s A Bad Thing)

This idea that millennials are job hoppers is completely inaccurate (and that might be a bad thing). Credit: Reebs, Wikipedia Commons

If you do an Internet search, you might think that job hopping is on the rise, particularly among self-obsessed, entitled millennials who spend more time taking selfies at bars with their friends than figuring out what they want to do with their lives.

Yet, when you look at the cold, hard facts, the exact opposite is true. In fact, millennials – and workers across the board – are more loyal than they have been in some time.

And that’s not necessarily a good thing, at least for workers.

Don’t believe me? Look at this chart published in The Washington Post, which shows that millennials have stayed at their jobs longer than any time since 1983:

Still don’t believe me? Here’s another chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which shows that in the past decade, workers are staying at their jobs longer, not shorter:

What this chart says is that the typical worker in 2004 spent four years at their company. In 2014, that number jumped to 4.6 years, a 15 percent increase in loyalty.

Why Is Job Hopping Declining?

So what really causes job hopping? What causes people to go from one job to another?

There’s always going to be a part of it that stems from people changing their minds about their careers. But if history has taught us anything, it’s that human nature has stayed relatively stable over the past 10,000 years or so, so the percentage of chronic job hoppers in the world probably is the same as it always was.

No, what really causes “job hopping” is amount of job opportunity out there. After all, if there are a lot of new jobs being created with higher salaries and better chances for advancement, logic suggests more people will take those jobs, leaving their old ones behind.

So what is causing the decline in job hopping? As the old presidential slogan goes, “it’s the economy, stupid.”

Why This Is Bad

It’s a simple formula, really: the better the economy, the more opportunity, the more people changing out their old jobs for better ones. The worse the economy, the less opportunity out there, and so people stay at their jobs longer.

So, really, job hopping is an indicator of a good economy. And it also forces up wages, because there is more competition for labor.

The numbers back that up, too: the ratio between wages and corporate profits has never been higher, largely because job hopping is down. Companies are not paying their workers more because they have little fear of them leaving.

Here’s a not-so-bold prediction though: that will start changing this year. The economy, albeit slowly, is starting to improve, which should cause job hopping to increase. In turn, that will force companies to start paying workers more.

Conclusion

First off, this idea that millennials today are somehow less decisive or more prone to leave than previous generations is, as the numbers show, fundamentally untrue. In reality, a bad economy has caused a decrease in job hopping, as opportunity has dropped.

But here’s another point: job hopping will probably creep up again, soon, as the economy slowly improves. Companies who want to keep their talent would be smart by figuring out how to retain their employees in a more competitive environment, today; instead of sitting around and watching their best people leave.

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