Resolving Puzzles and Contradictions in Job Tenure Trends
Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM
- Chair: Betsey Stevenson, University of Michigan
Reconciling the Decline in Job Changing With Trends in Employment Tenure
AbstractWe confront two seemingly-contradictory trends in the US labor market. On the one hand, the rate at which workers change jobs has declined since the 1980s (Molloy, Smith, and Wozniak 2016, 2017). On the other hand, there is a commonly expressed notion that long-term employment relationships have become less common. We reconcile these observations by examining how tenure has changed throughout the tenure distribution and for various demographic groups. Using data from the CPS and PSID, we show that the fraction of workers with low-tenure jobs (less than a year) has been falling since the 1980s in the aggregate and within demographic groups, which is entirely consistent with a decline in job changing. For long-tenure jobs (10 years or more), the trend is less clear, and depends on the choice of time period and data source. However, the standard notion about long-term employment is not unfounded—within most demographic groups, especially prime-age less-educated men, the fraction of workers with long-tenure jobs has been falling. Much of this decline is attributable to industry-specific trends, especially the contraction in the manufacturing sector.
Labor Unions and the Decline in Long Term Employment Relationships in the United States
AbstractLong-term employment relationships are generally good jobs, indicated in part by higher wages. However, such jobs have become substantially less common in the last 35 years. Over the same period, the unionization rate in the private sector declined substantially and remained robust in the public sector. Using data from the Current Population Survey, I address the questions of the extent to which these trends are related and the extent to which the decline in long-term employment can be accounted for by the decline in labor unions. Preliminary analysis suggests that a substantial fraction of the decline in long-term employment relationships can be accounted for by union decline. This finding is robust to controlling for the age and sex distribution of the workforce along with other demographics. And, importantly, the finding is also robust to controls for industry, occupation, and sector of employment. While it is difficult to draw a firm causal inference, provide some evidence that the decline in job quality and the failure of growth in real wages is related to the
decline of labor unions.
- J6 - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers
- E2 - Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy