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At a time when many laid-off workers have to take a pay cut to land a new job, members of the millennial generation are jumping ship from their companies after just two years, according to new studies.
The millennials - 18- to 30-year-olds including those workers just entering the full-time work force - are earning $39,700 a year on average, according to a report from the compensation data company PayScale and research group Millennial Branding.
Employees on the younger end of this demographic are starting with salaries of $21,000. Hit disproportionally hard by the recession, the group is much more likely than older workers to be laying out merchandise at retail stores, selling cellphones or performing other low-skill jobs, according to the study.
And that's despite the generation's high level of education. About 63 percent of full-time, professional workers in that generation have a bachelor's degree, 12.8 percent have a master's degree and 1.7 percent have doctorates. Popular majors include neuroscience, bioengineering, entrepreneurial studies, sport management and Chinese.
The disconnect may be causing young workers to leave their companies every two years. Baby boomers, by comparison, spend a median of seven years with each employer, while Gen X employees - those born in the 1960s, '70s and early '80s - spend five.
Skipping around may be easier at small operations with fewer than 100 workers, where 47 percent of millennials are employed. Fewer than one-quarter have jobs at behemoth companies where the head count exceeds 1,500.
But with 8.3 percent unemployment, finding a job at any age and at any company is difficult. Of the 56 percent of so-called displaced job seekers able to get new full-time positions after being laid off between January 2009 and December 2011, more than half accepted less pay. A third saw their salaries slashed 20 percent or more, according to the Labor Department report.
And it's not just young people who are pulling in less money.
Median annual incomes have dropped 4.8 percent to $50,964 a year in June from $53,508 in the same month in 2009, according to a report from Sentier Research.
With the exception of householders older than 65, every demographic group included in the Sentier study is worse off than it was three years ago.
For household heads between the ages of 25 and 34, income slumped 8.9 percent to $49,659.