There is a belief it seems that in the "olden days" that people would start a job at some company and then work for that company for the next 40 years and then retire. This picture is capped with a retirement party and the worker getting their golden watch retirement gift. Nowadays though the belief is that its typical for workers to bounce between employers every few years.
Nobody in my family I know of ever worked for the same employer more than maybe 10 or 15 years. Nobody worked for the same company their whole working life. Of course this is just anecdotal but leads me to wonder if this picture of the typical worker putting in 30-40 years with one business is really typical at all.
I found this report by ERBI : Employee Tenure Trend Lines, 1983–2010
Here's how the tenure of male workers looks over history:
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Its certainly down from the peaks in the 50's. But it didn't go from 40 years to 5 years.
I don't see data going back before 1951. I'm assuming that the lower tenure rate for 1951 is a result of WWII. During WWII a large portion of working age men were occupied in the war effort. So a larger percentage of men would have changed or started work at different companies after the war was over.
The trend looks different for women. Its almost the opposite with all the lines trending up over time.
There is also a Bloomberg article that discusses the same data : Sticking With the Same Job Isn't Out of Style