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Murat Tasci |

Research Economist

Murat Tasci

Murat Tasci is a research economist in the Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. He is primarily interested in macroeconomics and labor economics. His current work focuses on business cycles and labor markets, labor market policies, and search frictions.

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05.25.07

Economic Trends

The Youngest Baby Boomers’ Experience in the Labor Market

Murat Tasci and Laura Kleinhenz

Having just one job in a lifetime seems to be a thing of the past. The youngest of the baby boomers, those born between 1957 and 1964, have held an average of 10.5 jobs between the ages of 18 and 40, according to the latest data from National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The survey participants, who represent the youngest cohort of U.S. baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964), were first interviewed in 1979 when they were between the ages of 14 and 22. As these younger boomers have aged, they have changed jobs less frequently: Between the ages of 18 and 21, they held 3.8 jobs on average, but between 36 and 40, the average fell to 2.

Overall, only 1.2 percent of these workers were in the same job after 2004 that they had started when they were between 18 and 21. This percentage rises for workers who were older when they started the job. That is, as the age at the start of the job increases, the fraction of those in the same job after 2004 increases. On the other hand, even middle-aged workers tend to hold some jobs for only a short time. For instance, 36.4 percent of the jobs started by workers when they were between 36 and 40 did not last more than a year.

Job duration as a function of how old a worker is when starting a job is similar for men and women. Even though men and women had similar job duration patterns in the NLSY data once they were employed, men spent more time employed on average than women. The gap between them, however, decreases as education level increases. The difference between men and women is most likely due to the fact that women spent a considerable percentage of weeks between 1978 and 2004 out of the labor force—25.4 percent as opposed to 9.8 percent for men. Once again, highly educated women tended to spend less time out of the labor force.

The overall growth rate in earnings seems to decline as workers get older. Average annual percent growth in inflation-adjusted hourly earnings from 1978 to 2004 seems to be fastest for the workers between the ages of 18 and 25. Finally, even though earnings grow faster for men than women when workers are young, the growth rate of women’s earnings catches up with men’s between the ages of 31 and 35 and surpasses it later on.

Growth in Inflation-Adjusted Hourly Earnings, 1978-2004

Average annual percent growth in hourly earnings

Age 18 to 21

Age 22 to 25

Age 26 to 30

Age 31 to 35

Age 36 to 40

Total

6.3

6.5

4.0

3.6

2.5

Less than a high school diploma

4.6

3.7

2.3

3.0

2.3

High school graduates, no college1

7.0

4.4

2.7

3.2

2.0

Some college or associate degree

6.3

5.4

4.4

3.3

2.8

Bachelor’s degree and higher2

5.7

11.6

6.4

4.7

3.0

Men

6.7

6.7

4.1

3.6

2.2

Less than a high school diploma

4.0

3.7

1.8

2.3

1.7

High school graduates, no college1

7.9

4.8

2.6

3.1

1.2

Some college or associate degree

7.9

5.8

4.8

3.0

2.6

Bachelor’s degree and higher2

5.0

12.3

7.1

5.6

3.5

Women

5.8

6.2

4.0

3.5

2.9

Less than a high school diploma

6.0

3.6

3.1

4.2

3.2

High school graduates, no college1

6.0

4.0

2.9

3.3

3.0

Some college or associate degree

5.0

5.0

4.1

3.6

3.0

Bachelor’s degree and higher2

6.3

10.9

5.8

3.6

2.4

 

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Number of Jobs Held, Labor Market Activity, and Earnings Growth Among the Youngest Baby Boomers: Results from a Longitudinal Survey, August 25, 2006.
1. Includes persons with a high school diploma or equivalent.
2. Includes persons with a bachelor’s, master’s, professional, and doctoral degrees.