Are Lifetime Jobs Disappearing? Job Duration in the United States: 1973-1993

Henry S. Farber

NBER Working Paper No. 5014
Issued in February 1995
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies

The public believes that job security has deteriorated dramatically in the United States. In this study, I examine job durations from eight supplements to the Current Population Survey (CPS) administered between 1973 and 1993 in order to determine if, in fact, there has been a systematic change in the likelihood of long- term employment. In order to measure changes in the distribution of job durations, I examine changes in selected quantiles (the median and the 0.9 quantile) of the distribution of duration of jobs in progress. I also examine selected points in the cumulative distribution function including the fraction of workers who have been with their employer 1) less than one year, 2) more than ten years, and 3) more than twenty years. The central findings are clear. By the measures I examine, there has been no systematic change in the overall distribution of job duration over the last two decades, but the distribution of long-term jobs across the population has changed in two ways. First, individuals, particularly men, with little education (less than twelve years) are substantially less likely to be in long jobs today than they were twenty years ago. Second, women with at least a high-school education are substantially more likely to be in long jobs today than they were twenty years ago.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w5014

Published: Haltiwanger, John, Marilyn E. Manser, and Robert Topel (eds.) Labor Statistics Measurement Issues. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

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