EBRI General Benefits Research: 2003 Findings

Employee Tenure

From the March 2003 Notes article, "Employee Tenure."

  • The data for 2002 show that the median tenure of workers with their current employer is only slightly shorter than it was in 1983: 4.7 years in 2002, compared with 5.0 years in 1983.
  • Even among older male workers (ages 55-64), who experienced the most job change, the median tenure fell from a level that would not be considered a lifetime, 14.7 years in 1963, to a roughly comparable level of 10.2 years in 2002.
  • The median tenure for male workers declined from 5.9 years in 1983 to 4.9 years in 2002. In contrast, the median tenure for female workers increased slightly from 4.2 years in 1983 to 4.4 year in 2002.
  • Private-sector workers' median tenure held steady from 1983 (3.6 years) to 2002 (3.6 years). By contrast, the median tenure for public-sector workers increased from 1983 (6.0 years) to 1998 (7.5 years) before declining to 6.9 years in 2002.
  • The distribution of all wage and salary workers age 20 or older across various levels of tenure was quite stable from 1983 to 2002. The small changes that appeared to be consistent over the period were a slight increase in the percentage of workers with 20 or more years of tenure, from 8.9 percent to 10.3 percent, and a decrease in the percentage with one year or less of tenure, from 25.7 percent to 22.1 percent.