Turnover Static, Job Absence Increased in Fourth Quarter of 2012

Bloomberg BNA Survey Finds Rate of Employee Separations Stabilized, While Job Absence Is Up

Arlington, Va. (March 13, 2013) - A Bloomberg BNA quarterly survey of employers released this week reveals that employee turnover was remarkably flat in the second half of 2012, and separation rates for the full year suggest little or no overall change in worker departures.  Job absence surged in late 2012, reversing a decline observed during the summer. 

Employee Turnover

While turnover appears to have stabilized above the historic lows of 2009, employee separations continue to run well below levels that were common before the recession.

Median monthly separations (excluding layoffs and job eliminations) averaged 0.7 percent of the workforce in each month of the fourth quarter, the same figure recorded for July, August, and September of 2012. While turnover outpaced 2011 levels throughout the second quarter, as well as in November and December, those higher rates were counterbalanced by sharply lower employee separations during the summer. As a result, the year-end average of median turnover rates for 2012 held at the same level recorded for 2010 and 2011 - 0.7 percent of the workforce per month.

Job Absence

Median rates of unscheduled job absence averaged 0.8 percent of scheduled workdays during the fourth quarter, up two-tenths of a percentage point from both the previous quarter and the last three months of 2011. The late-year increase could reflect a seasonal pattern (historically, absence tends to be highest during colder months), an early flu season, or a recovering economy (absenteeism often falls during economic downturns).

After holding at 0.6 percent throughout the third quarter, the median monthly rate of unscheduled absence climbed to 0.8 percent in October and November, then rose again to 0.9 percent in December. For 2012, the 12-month average of median absence rates was 0.7 percent of scheduled workdays, up modestly from the full-year average in 2011 (0.6 percent) but still well below levels recorded before the Great Recession.

About the Survey:

This survey is conducted quarterly among a panel of human resource executives representing organizations throughout the United States. Of the 265 employers responding in time for tabulation of this survey, 43 percent have fewer than 250 workers, 19 percent have workforces of 250 to 499 employees, 13 percent employ 500 to 999 workers, 11 percent have workforces of 1,000 to 2,499 employees, and 14 percent employ at least 2,500 workers. By industry, 19 percent of the organizations are manufacturing companies, 52 percent are nonmanufacturing firms, and 29 percent are nonbusiness establishments. By region, 19 percent of the employers are located in the Northeast, 32 percent are in the South, 31 percent operate in the North Central states, and 18 percent are located in the West. Total employment of the reporting organizations is 277,546.

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