Turnover high for younger workers

A corporate trainer addresses a group of young "generation X" workers at a Chicago manufacturing business last August.

Young adults born in the early 1980s held an average of just over six jobs each from ages 18 through 26, a new Labor Department survey has found.

Since 1997, the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics has been keeping tabs on about 9,000 young men and women born in the early 1980s, surveying their educational and workplace progress. The latest survey is from interviews conducted in 2011-2012.

According to the survey, more than two-thirds of the jobs held by high school dropouts lasted less than a year.

Women in the study group overall were more educated than the men. Thirty-two percent of the women earned a bachelor's degree, compared with 24 percent of the male participants.

Overall, 70 percent of the women had either some college or received a bachelor's degree, compared to 61 percent of the men.

In the survey, young adults born from 1980 to 1984 held an average of 6.2 jobs from ages 18 to 27 - 6.0 jobs for men and 6.3 for women.

The number of jobs held varied by educational levels more for women than for men. For men it ranged from 5.9 jobs for those with less than a high-school diploma to 6.0 jobs for those with a college bachelor's degree or higher. For women, those with less than a high-school diploma held 4.9 jobs over the period while women with a bachelor's degree or higher held 6.9 jobs.

Joe Fuller, a Harvard Business School professor and contributing faculty member to the U.S. Competitiveness Project, said the report contained no big surprises, but "what this data really says is, if you have less educational attainment, you're more likely to be unemployed. Or if you're an ethnic minority. ... There's nothing new there. But it's got good data and it updates it."

The study included the period of the recession that ended in 2009. During that period, jobs across all age groups were lost and overall unemployment soared to 10 percent. It was 6.7 percent in February.