Tech Employee Tenure Revealed in Labor Report

How long do you plan to stay in your job? If you’re in the technology field, it’s likely to be longer than the national median, according to figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Overall, the U.S. median for all industries grew from 4.4 years in January 2010 to 4.6 years by January 2012. But in the computer and electronic products industry, workers there – ranging from developers to secretaries – rose from 5.9 years in 2010 to 7.7 years in 2012. That’s several years longer than the national median.

Telecommunications employees are also a loyal bunch, going from a median tenure of 6.6 years in 2010 to 7.4 years this year.

The professional and technical services industry, however, didn’t fare as well and has a more transient group, with the median number of years rising from 4.0 in 2010 to 4.4 years in 2012. It came in under the national median in both years.

In a June report, Tom Silver, SVP North America of Dice, noted tech workers’ reluctance to change employers:

“Our customers tell us it’s hard to entice tech professionals out of their current positions. There is just not enough confidence for professionals to leave what they know behind and take a chance with their careers.”

However, younger workers are more likely to take a new position. The BLS report found that overall the median tenure for employees age 65 and over was 10.3 years in January 2012, compared with 3.2 years for workers age 25 to 34.

For employees in the prime of their career, the BLS found more than half of all workers age 55 and over were employed for at least 10 years with their current employer in January 2012, compared with 13 percent of workers age 30 to 34.

The reluctance to change could be short-lived, according to a Kelly Services survey of more than 10,000 IT workers.  Only 31 percent believed their current employer provided a road to career growth and development, while 55 percent believed that road meant changing employers.

And the Kelly report says those most likely to leave were Gen X, 57 percent, and middle managers, 59 percent.

Related Links

Image: Year 2012 by Bigstock


  1. BY Fred Bosick says:

    It’s simple. Our jobs suck but there’s very little opening up. An if you’re of a certain age, it’s hard to find a new job.

    “Our customers tell us it’s hard to entice tech professionals out of their current positions. There is just not enough confidence for professionals to leave what they know behind and take a chance with their careers.”

    One reason for this is that the pay is not there! Today, I turned down an opportunity to apply for a position requiring presentation and project management skills for only a modest increase over my present rate. Never mind that it starts as a 6 month contract and benefits don’t start for 90 days! The recruiter is out-of-state and likely doesn’t realize this particular employer often demands a current TSC.

    If finance houses insist that big bonuses are to retain talent in their executive ranks – while almost destroying the economy – why not tech professionals?

    So many gripes by employers would disappear as soon as they realize you must pay for quality and professionalism. I guess they’d rather offer sound bites to industry rags while planning another sit down dinner with Mitt Romney!

    • BY Clever Sobriquet says:

      Agree 100% Age discrimination is rampant in the IT world. If you are over 50, forget about getting interviews.

  2. BY James Green1 says:

    “Our customers tell us it’s hard to entice tech professionals out of their current positions. There is just not enough confidence for professionals to leave what they know behind and take a chance with their careers.”
    Is this article serious, most people in the tech industry know people who lost there jobs and they know how hard it is to get another one. There is now a fundamental distrust of employers because many of them can be trusted. Leave your stable good paying job you know for something you don’t, in this broken Market place, that would be a crazy ideal. There are plenty of unemployed IT professional THAT NEED WORK maybe when those people are hired people will take risk with there career. If I had a fulltime job there is no way in hell I would leave for job that look good now but might be gone tomorrow.

  3. BY A bit of advice says:

    Yea, these companies need to stop begging people that already have jobs to leave their jobs. Time to hire some of the highly skilled, highly qualified, unemployed tech workers.

  4. BY therealanitamanbadly says:

    Recruiters call me on the daily because I have the skills they’re looking for. You know why I’m not ready to sign on with their clients? Let me tell you.

    1) The job is too far away. I am not interested in a 50-mile one-way commute. I am currently working from home and have zero commute, why should I spend hundreds of dollars a month in gas? That’s an instant pay cut.

    2) I’m looking for a personality fit. No way am I going to work for some idiot. Never again. I’ve worked for too many stupid and/or arrogant people and I can spot them a mile away. Worse yet, after three interviews, I got an offer from a great employer but had to turn it down because of the people I would be working with. I told the manager if he would get rid of one person, I would be there immediately, but he liked the guy. That tells me that manager is not effective, because he doesn’t know when to get rid of people who ruin the group dynamic. And there was NO WAY anyone would want to work with the toxic co-worker. The other people on the team were apologizing for his behavior, which tells me they didn’t want to work with him either.

    3) The company, or the division interested in me, has a bad reputation. We all read these articles about how employers are using facebook and twitter and personal investigators to check out potential hires — guess what? We workers have word-of-mouth. This is why we network, so we know what’s going on at the companies who are hiring in our fields. This means HR managers need to think twice before treating their reports like garbage, because word of their bad behavior will spread, and they will never find the best candidates.

  5. BY David says:

    I would like to see who in the study is considered a “tech worker”. I’m sure if they looked into who really is a tech worker, the median years would be VERY LOW. It seems most tech jobs these days are 90 day, 180 day, 12 month, 24 month contract positions. I don’t believe this study is factual.

  6. BY Jose F. Medeiros says:

    I totally disagree with this article, it is biased and does not compare all industries. Feel free to call me disgruntled, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Cisco or Intel is influencing DICE to distort the facts. Not only do technology companies such as IBM, Intel, or HP no longer offer a pension, but many of my former co-workers and managers were let go at Intel and Cisco. Are you close to 50, if so you better think about how you are going to make it to 65 with out a job now a days, or working in retail with a degree in engineering or computer science at minimum wage. College Graduates would be smarter taking local, state or federal positions, where an employees can still work 30 years, and have a substantial pension. Working in other industries that still value hiring Americans as opposed to outsourcing, and or using off shore workers are also a better choice then High Tech. I have to admit, that Microsoft has had very few lay offs relative to the amount of employees they have, but that is not the norm, even the mighty Apple has had many layoffs over the years, and the old wise crack was that Steve Jobs’s is the oldest employee they have or have hired.

    Jose F. Medeiros
    San Jose, California

    • BY Stimpy says:

      The engineering dept I work in is hiring like crazy … but I am getting pushed out the door. I made it to age 62. I’ve survived countless layoffs but my hair is now the wrong color and that’s it for me. It was fun while it lasted and my tenure is beyond 25 years. No gold watch for me — just a kick in the @$$ and have a nice day. I guess you could call me disgruntled but I’ll get over it.

    • BY Mark Feffer says:

      Hi Jose -

      Thanks for taking the time to write. I just wanted to emphasize that no one’s pushing us to distort anything. There’s a pretty strict separation between us on the news side of Dice and sales, marketing, etc., and no one sees or approves anything we write until it’s posted. (I know a lot of people are cynical about this, but all I can tell you is it’s how we operate.) Susan Hall, who wrote this article, is an independent business journalist who covers technology. Our associate editor, Dawn Kawamoto, edited it; she’s been covering Silicon Valley for years. This is honest coverage of the BLS numbers, though I don’t want to stand in the way of anyone who disagrees with them, or any conclusions we reach, for that matter.



      • BY James Green1 says:

        Yes Mark I am one of those who disagree, and I believe Dice could be so much better if they did there own investigated reporting instead of relying on corporate shill sources.

        • BY Mark Feffer says:

          Noted, James. But the BLS is anything but a shill source.

          • BY David says:

            Statistics are easy to manipulate. Again who are they considering “tech workers”. A secretary with 20 years experience at a tech company or a corporate lawyer should not be included in the data. Many tech workers I know work a job for a year or two before their contract ends or they are layed off.

      • BY James Green1 says:

        Ah, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics could not even tell the difference between a Software Engineer and a Programmer and most of there so call prediction have been way off, you think I trust them.

  7. BY Pete says:

    These days few employees who have jobs are willing to leave. That increases tenure somewhat. And quite a few have had a long tenure as unemployed tech employees. But these days I don’t think even the “good government jobs” are any better.

  8. BY John says:

    Try being 45 black and highly educated. Whisk and racism are alive in america. But I got an out and boy am I using it. Tired of the same old song and dance pony show in this country. Every five to six years having to go through extended periods of unemployment for what reason? That is just ridiculous. Got it figure out and I’m getting while the herrings good. There isn’t a job in this country I would take right now.

    • BY Jose F. Medeiros says:

      I am not black, I am of Portuguese descent, and I have experienced the same issues as John. My former manager at Intel who worked for them about 10 years, and was laid off with a masters degree and in his 50′s, is now a Pours wine and does wine education at Francis Ford Coppola Winery.

    • BY Jose F. Medeiros says:

      I am not black, I am of Portuguese descent, and I have experienced the same issues as John although I am probably not as educated as he is, and never learned to properly type. My former manager at Intel who worked for them about 10 years, and was laid off with a masters degree, and in his 50′s, now pours wine and does wine education at Francis Ford Coppola Winery, and no longer wants to deal with the stress and demands of working in Information Technology such as long hours, working weekends without overtime pay, and has lost 100 lbs due to his new lifestyle, and seems much happier.

  9. BY The Heretic says:

    This article is a tad bit misleading. The reason why tech workers don’t move around is the high cost of job search; time, money, and materials. If you are making $65 an hour and spend a thousand hours a year looking for work that it $65,000 dollars in opportunity costs plus all the out of pocket expenses.

    While it may be easier for people with the in demand pedigrees, the costs are still prohibitively high and that is why you are seeing it in these numbers. I personally know hundreds of people who hate where they work, but finding another position is just too costly in this dysfunctional labor market.

    “Our customers tell us it’s hard to entice tech professionals out of their current positions. There is just not enough confidence for professionals to leave what they know behind and take a chance with their careers.”

    This is misdirection of the conversation to the employer prospective and I understand why some of the posters object to it pointing out the propaganda value of such tripe. Employers like to pidgin hole their valued employees and the high cost of job search is only one of many ways that they accomplish their goal and suppress wages. The technical recruiter business model reduces wages by the amount of their commissions. In addition, recruiting activity wastes a lot of the job hunters time and time is money especially to a highly paid professional.

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