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Lead Your Team Managing

Frequent Job Hopping Not Just a Millennial Trait

Frequent Job Hopping Not Just a Millennial Trait
Credit: Koch/Shutterstock

While millennials are often criticized for the frequency with which they change jobs, they are far from alone in taking this approach. Job hopping was just as prevalent, if not more so, among baby boomers, new research finds.

Workers born in the latter years of the baby boom held, on average, nearly 12 jobs between the ages of 18 and 48, according to a study from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The total number of jobs held by boomers doesn't differ much from what many millennials are looked down upon for. Emily He, chief marketing officer of talent-management solution Saba, told Business News Daily in 2014 that research suggests today's college graduates will have a dozen or more jobs by the time they hit their 30s.

The new research shows that people born between 1957 and 1964 tended to switch jobs less frequently as they got older. Specifically, these baby boomers held an average of 5.5 jobs while ages 18 to 24, three jobs from ages 25 to 29, 2.4 jobs from ages 30 to 34 and 2.1 jobs from ages 35 to 39. From ages 40 to 48, the average worker born in those same years held 2.4 jobs.

The overall numbers were nearly equal for both men and women, and for minorities. The research discovered that men held 11.8 jobs, while women held 11.5 jobs from ages 18 to 48. In addition, while younger white workers held more jobs than black and Hispanic workers, there was no significant difference in the average number of jobs they held between the ages of 25 and 48. [Why Frequent Job Hoppers Might Make Good Hires ]

The researchers found that short job stints among baby boomers weren't relegated to just their younger years.

"Although job duration tended to be longer the older a worker was when starting the job, these baby boomers continued to have large numbers of short-duration jobs" even as they got older, the study's authors wrote. "Among jobs started by 40 to 48 year olds, 32 percent ended in less than a year and 69 percent ended in fewer than five years."

Today, many millennials say they believe they will actually end up working for significantly fewer employers than baby boomers over the course of their careers. Previous research by Bentley University revealed that 80 percent of millennials predict they'll work for four or fewer companies during their entire careers.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' study was based on data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, a survey of 9,964 men and women who were ages 14 to 22 when first interviewed in 1979 and ages 47 to 56 when interviewed most recently in 2012-13. Participants were interviewed annually from 1979 to 1994 and biennially since 1994.

Chad  Brooks
Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.