Millennials and job-hopping

Knowing my interest in the behavior of Millennials, my friend (and regular reader of PSI) Bob sent me a link to a 538 Economics article on Millennials and job-hopping.  The post is short and worth reading, as is most everything on 538.

538 says that if we follow press accounts, Millennials are inveterate job-changers.  We can see this, the argument goes, if we compare how long they hold down a given position vs. the behavior of the cohort a decade or so older than them.  The numbers are clear.  Millennials change jobs more frequently than their older brothers and sisters.

So far, so bad.  This is the wrong comparison.  The real question should be, 538 says, how the behavior of Gen Xers compares with that of Millennials when Xers were the same age as Millennials are now.  Government data show that when they were 20-somethings, Gen Xers were more rapid job-changers than Millennials are now.

As 538 puts it, “The myth of the job-hopping millennial is just that — a myth.”

Why is this interesting, other than the gotcha moment for the press?

The virtue of the “bad Millennial” story is that it’s attention-grabbing, initially plausible, doesn’t require much thinking and is easy to write.  The not so good part is that it’s wrong.

We can probably figure this out, especially if we have friends like Bob.  I wonder how the newsfeed reading and parsing computers run by algorithmic traders deal with stuff like this.  Not well, I would think.

I think this kind of situation should present continuing opportunities to take a contrary position.  As always, one trick will be to try to figure out when momentum has shifted far enough in the wrong direction to make this profitable.  Another, harder one, will be to figure out when the pendulum has gone far enough and will soon begin to reverse itself.




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