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


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
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.

Year of Publication
Date Published
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Citation Key
In Labor Statistics Measurement Issues, John Haltiwanger, Marilyn Manser, and Robert Topel, eds. University of Chicago Press, 1998
Working Papers