Employee Tenure Summary

For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Tuesday, September 18, 2012                   USDL-12-1887

Technical information: (202) 691-6378  *  cpsinfo@bls.gov  *  www.bls.gov/cps
Media contact:         (202) 691-5902  *  PressOffice@bls.gov

                                  EMPLOYEE TENURE IN 2012

The median number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current
employer was 4.6 in January 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
This measure, referred to as employee tenure, was higher than the median tenure
(4.4 years) in January 2010.

Information on employee tenure has been obtained from supplemental questions to the
Current Population Survey (CPS) every 2 years since 1996. These data are collected
as part of the Displaced Worker Supplement, which is sponsored by the Employment and
Training Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor. The CPS is a monthly survey
of about 60,000 households that provides information on the labor force status of the
civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and over. The questions about employee
tenure measure how long workers had been with their current employer at the time of
the survey. A number of factors can affect the median tenure of workers, including
changes in the age profile among workers, as well as changes in the number of hires
and separations. For further information about the CPS, see the Technical Note.

Demographic Characteristics

In January 2012, median employee tenure (the point at which half of all workers had
more tenure and half had less tenure) for men was 4.7 years, little changed from
January 2010. For women, median tenure in January 2012 was 4.6 years, up from 4.2
years in January 2010. Among men, 30 percent of wage and salary workers had 10 years 
or more of tenure with their current employer; among women, the figure was 28 percent.
(See tables 1 and 3.)

Median employee tenure varied by age. Older workers tend to have more years of tenure
than their younger counterparts. For example, the median tenure for employees age 65
and over was 10.3 years in January 2012, over three times the tenure for workers age
25 to 34 (3.2 years). More than half of all workers age 55 and over were employed for
at least 10 years with their current employer in January 2012, compared with 13 percent
of workers age 30 to 34. (See tables 1 and 2.)

Among the major race and ethnicity groups, 20 percent of Hispanics had been with their
current employer for 10 years or more in January 2012, compared with 31 percent of
whites, 26 percent of blacks, and 23 percent of Asians. (See table 3.) The shorter
tenure among Hispanics can be explained, in part, by their relative youth. Almost half
of Hispanic workers age 16 and over were age 16 to 34, compared with just over a third
of whites, blacks, and Asians.

Twenty-one percent of all wage and salary workers age 16 and over had a year or less
of tenure with their current employer in January 2012. This short-tenured group of
workers includes new entrants and reentrants to the labor force, job losers who found
new jobs during the previous year, and workers who had voluntarily changed employers
during the previous year. Younger workers are more likely than older workers to be
short-tenured employees. For example, among 16- to 19-year-old workers, 73 percent had
tenure of 12 months or less with their current employer in January 2012, compared with
9 percent of workers age 55 to 64. (See table 3.)


In January 2012, wage and salary workers in the public sector had almost double the
median tenure of private sector employees, 7.8 versus 4.2 years. (See table 5.) The
longer tenure among workers in the public sector is explained, in part, by the age
profile of government workers. About three in four government workers were age 35
and over, compared with about three in five private wage and salary workers.

Within the private sector, workers in manufacturing had the highest median tenure among
the major industries (6.0 years). In contrast, workers in leisure and hospitality had
the lowest median tenure (2.4 years). (See table 5.) These differences in tenure reflect
many factors, including the varying age distributions across industries. On average,
workers in manufacturing tend to be older than workers in leisure and hospitality.


In January 2012, workers in management, professional, and related occupations had the
highest median tenure (5.5 years) among the major occupational groups. Within this group,
employees in architecture and engineering occupations and in management occupations had
the longest tenure--7.0 and 6.3 years, respectively. Workers in service occupations, who
are generally younger than persons employed in management, professional, and related
occupations, had the lowest median tenure (3.2 years). Among employees working in service
jobs, food service workers had the shortest median tenure, at 2.3 years. (See table 6.)

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Last Modified Date: September 18, 2012