Friday, August 23, 2019

Thank God It's Friday

TGIF! You know the feeling. You know it because you've lived it over and over again—about 1,400 times by the time you're in your fifties. That's the average number of weeks Americans are employed from the age of 18 until they are 52.

This somewhat unsettling thought comes from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, a Bureau of Labor Statistics effort that has been tracking people born from 1957 through 1964 for decades. The cohort was first interviewed when they were aged 14 to 22. At the latest interview, conducted in 2016–17, they were aged 51 to 60. These folks had been employed for 78 percent of all the weeks they had lived since the age of 18. That's about 1,400 TGIF moments.

There are differences by demographic characteristic, of course. Men spent 84 percent of all those weeks employed and women 72 percent. Among men by educational attainment, the share of weeks spent at work between the ages of 18 and 52 ranged from a low of 69 percent for those without a high school diploma to a high of 89 percent for college graduates. Women without a high school diploma had worked only 45 percent of the weeks since they were age 18. Women with a bachelor's degree or more education had worked for a much larger 80 percent of the weeks.

The survey's findings show that college-educated men and women have similar work histories, with men having been employed for 1,574 weeks since the age of 18 and women employed for 1,414 weeks. The difference between the two is about the amount of time a working woman might take off to have a couple of kids.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Number of Jobs, Labor Market Experience, and Earnings Growth: Results from a National Longitudinal Survey Summary

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