Are Careers Still Stable and Life-long? Stability and Heterogeneity of Employment Histories in the United States, 1967-2005

Reiping Huang, University of Minnesota

This study examines how widespread stable, full-time careers were in the United States across three time periods (1967-1979, 1980-1989, and 1990-2005). Analyzing the changes in employment status of 32,048 respondents in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, it shows that: (1) Stable, full-time careers become more common over time among baby boomers and Generation X, but were less widespread in earlier generations; (2) This career type is less common for women than for men; however, the gender gap has shrunk; (3) The difference between white-collar and blue-collar careers is also decreasing, although white-collar careers overall are less stable; (4) Workers tended to experience similar employment histories between the 1980 and the 1990 economic recessions, compared with earlier and later periods. Instead of confirming that jobs become less secure for all workers in the post-industrial era, this study suggests a life course explanation that highlights changes in employment after age 50.

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Presented in Poster Session 3