Dec 20, 2017

Americans are still pretty flexible about changing jobs

For months, we have seen reports that Americans are far less mobile than they used to be — even if jobs await in another part of the country, a lot of people just don't want to, or feel they cannot, move. But they are pretty flexible at least in one respect, the willingness to change jobs. And a big reason is that many are rewarded handsomely for doing so, according to ADP, the payroll firm.

Data: ADP Workforce Vitality Report; Chart: Chris Canipe / Axios

The bottom line: If you are a construction worker, and you held onto your job rather than accept an offer that came along, you are being paid a bit more on average than your workmate who switched to the other company — $31.71 an hour versus $28.51 at the new firm. But your buddy may surpass you later — the average construction switcher's wages were going up at a 5.8% annual rate in the third quarter of this year, compared with 4.9% for those who held onto their job.

The numbers are starkest in the hospitality industry: Job-switchers in hospitality earned $23.18 an hour, versus $25.73 for those remaining loyal to their company; but switchers were seeing 6.9% year-on-year wage growth compared with 4.8% for those who stuck around.

But but but:

  • Given the tightness of the labor market—unemployment is at just 4.1% — why aren't wages higher for switchers from the get-go?
  • Ahu Yildirmaz, an economist who directs the ADP Research Institute, says one reason is that high-wage baby boomers are leaving their jobs and being replaced by lower-wage millennials.
  • So the millennials may actually be receiving higher pay than they normally would at their level of experience.

The other trend is those willing to shift work, ADP said. Job-switching is at an all-time high, the firm said, with 27% saying in the third quarter of the year that they were in the midst of changing employment (up from 23% in the first quarter of 2015). And 63% said they are actively or passively looking for new jobs.

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