What Job Instability?
| Peter Klein |
A truism among management scholars is that jobs, in the new, knowledge-based, hypercompetitive, deregulated, entrepreneurial, dog-eat-dog, Schumpeterian, long-tail economy, have become less secure. Perhaps my father or grandfather spent his career with a single firm and got a gold watch upon retirement but I constantly switch jobs, by choice or necessity, resulting in a loss of firm-specific or job-specific human capital, increased employee anxiety, and a deterioration of social bonds.
The data, however, suggest otherwise. In “The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same: Trends in Long-Term Employment in the United States, 1969-2002,” Ann Huff Stevens finds in 1969, the average tenure for US men in their longest job was 21.9 years. In 2002, the figure is 21.4 years. The percentage of male workers working for a single employer for 20 years or more is the same was the same in 2002 as it 1969. By this measure, at least, jobs are as “stable” today as they were in the Good Old Days.