If you are 50 years old and have worked for about a dozen employers in your life, you aren't a job hopper -- you are an average worker.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest data on workers who are now ages 46 to 54 said the average member of that group has had 11.3 jobs in his or her lifetime. The people in the survey were born between 1957 and 1964, and constitute the latter part of the baby boom.
Men have switched jobs more than women and people who finished their formal education with a high school degree have held fewer jobs (an average of 10.5 since they were 18) than either those with more schooling (11.8 jobs) or those with less (11.9).
The results are from the first longitudinal survey of workers.
Donna Rothstein, an economist with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, said past surveys had to be done with paper and pencil, so it was hard to follow the same people for many years. The latter half of the baby boomers came of age in time for the bureau to use computers to track them.
The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 was a survey of 9,964 young people aged 14 to 22 conducted in 1979. The same people were surveyed every year from 1979 to 1994 and every other year since then.
A second longitudinal survey was started in 1997 with 9,000 young people who were then 12 to 17. That survey found that the younger group was on track to follow its elder cohort in the job market.
When the baby boomers were between 18 and 24, they held an average of 5.5 jobs. The younger workers held an average of 5.4 jobs from when they were 18 to 24.
The government survey also found among the older cohort that the older a worker was when starting a job, the longer that person stayed in the job.
More than two-thirds, 69 percent, worked for less than a year at jobs they landed when they were under 24, and just 7 percent stayed in those starter jobs longer than five years. In contrast, two-thirds of people who accepted jobs between the ages of 40 and 46 were still there a year later and 31 percent were there longer than five years.
Ann Belser: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1699.