Women more likely to have multiple jobs but they still earn less than needed to live

A small but steady number of American workers have more than one job, because either they need extra income or they want to gain more experience or explore different interests, as multiple jobholding has become even more prevalent in the U.S. economy over the past two decades.

The share of Americans working more than one job to make ends meet has been growing over the past two decades, and the pay from second jobs make up a substantial share of workers’ earnings, according to papers published by the U.S. Commerce Department on Wednesday.

U.S. Census Bureau reports released in 2019 and 2021 looked at the characteristics of workers who had multiple jobs by sex, industry, occupation and work schedule.

The Multiple Jobholders in the United States: 2013 report used data from the 2014 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP).

The earnings from the workers’ second jobs make up an average 28% of their total earnings, showing that workers are likely relying on that pay, researchers said.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD), the statistics agency created a way to measure multiple jobholding that reveals a trend not previously documented by other research: the percentage of U.S. workers who hold more than one job has been increasing during the past 20 years.

Over the entire 22-year time period from the second quarter of 1996 to the first quarter of 2018, the multiple jobholding rate has averaged 7.2% of all employed individuals, according to the LEHD data.

The multiple jobholding rate is defined as the number of multiple jobholders in a given quarter divided by the total number of employed persons.

Women hold multiple jobs at a higher rate than men and the rate has increased in the last 20 years. However, multiple jobholders earn less than workers in the kind of single, secure, fulltime jobs that are becoming less common.

Women hold multiple jobs at a higher rate than men and the rate has increased in the last 20 years.

In the first quarter of 2018, 9.1% of women and 6.6% of men were working more than one job.

For men, the trend of multiple jobholding has been relatively flat over the last 20 years, rising by 0.3 percentage points from 6.3% to 6.6%.

However, the multiple jobholding rate for women has increased by 1.6 percentage points during the same period, from 7.5% to 9.1%.

most multiple jobs are clustered in a few industries. Here’s the percentage of second jobs by sector:

  • 16.8% in healthcare and social assistance.
  • 16.7% in accommodation and food services.
  • 14.5% in retail trade.
  • 10.8% in administrative and support and waste management and remediation services.

Individuals who are not multiple jobholders earned, on average, $15,750 from their full-quarter job in the first quarter of 2018. Full-quarter jobs are long-lasting, stable jobs that exist in the previous quarter, the current quarter and the following quarter.

Multiple jobholders earn less.

Individuals with full-quarter jobs who are multiple jobholders earned an average $9,770 from their primary job in the first quarter of 2018 and an average $3,780 from all secondary jobs during that same quarter for a total of $13,550 from all jobs.

Why do persons with multiple jobs earn less, on average, from all jobs compared to persons with only one long-lasting, stable job? The Census Bureau’s working paper shows that this earnings differential is due to age, gender and the industries that employ multiple jobholders.

On average, earnings on all multiple jobs account for 28% of a multiple jobholder’s total earnings ($3,780 divided by $13,550). Figure 2 shows how this 28% varies across the earnings distribution.

Multiple jobholders with relatively low earnings (total earnings at or below the 18th percentile), their second job or jobs provides, on average, more than 30% of their total earnings. For all other individuals, multiple jobholding provides over 25% of their total earnings.

One of the most striking findings is that the share of total earnings that come from multiple jobholding is above 25% for every percentile.

Even multiple jobholders who are high earners — in the top 10 percentiles of the earnings distribution, making $28,300 or more per quarter in real 2018 first-quarter dollars from all jobs combined — receive approximately a fourth of their total earnings from their second jobs.

This suggests that the average multiple job held by these high earnings individuals is not a minor one-off source of earnings, such as working part-time one or two weekends a year, but rather a persistent additional job. Examples likely include doctors who have one job in their practice and another job at the hospital, a pattern that warrants further research.

The Census Bureau’s research has presented a new multiple jobholding measure computed from the LEHD data, showing that the multiple jobholding rate has been increasing in the U.S. economy during the past two decades.

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