It Takes Two (or More): Oregon’s Multiple Jobholders in 2017

by Anna Johnson

April 2, 2018

In 2017, 116,000 Oregonians held more than one job in addition to their primary job and were considered to be multiple jobholders. The multiple-jobholding rate – the proportion of multiple jobholders among all employed workers – was 5.7 percent, which was above the U.S. rate of 4.9 percent. Oregon’s multiple-jobholding rate reached a recent high of 6.7 percent in 2012, and was as low as 5.2 percent in 2004.

Multiple jobholding has generally become rarer in Oregon and the U.S. since 1995. Research shows that people are less likely to take on a second job than they were in the past.

Oregonians More Likely to Work Multiple Jobs

Oregon workers were more likely to hold more than one job at a time than our national counterparts, a trend dating back at least two decades. Oregon’s multiple job holding rate has been higher than the U.S. every year since 1994, with the brief exception of 2004. The U.S. multiple jobholding rate stabilized at 4.9 percent from 2010 to 2015 and increased slightly to 5.0 percent in 2016 before dipping back to 4.9 percent in 2017. Oregon’s rate climbed from 2009 through 2012 before falling to 5.4 percent in 2016. In 2017, Oregon’s multiple jobholding rate began increasing again to 5.7 percent.
Economic conditions certainly affect whether or not an individual works more than one job, but there is no clear association between the multiple-jobholding rate and the business cycle. That is because fewer jobs are available during recessions, right when more people need a second job to help meet their expenses. During expansions, increased income and looser credit constraints mean fewer people need a second job to meet expenses. These factors seem to cancel each other out on the whole, which is why multiple job holding rates don’t rise or fall significantly with the business cycle.

Reasons for Working More than One Job

Most people working more than one job say they are doing so in order to earn extra money (38.1%), to meet expenses, or to pay off debt (25.6%). Another 17.6 percent of multiple jobholders report that their main reason for working a second job is because they enjoy it, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in an article about Multiple Jobholding Over the Past Two Decades. So working more than one job is thought to serve both economic and noneconomic purposes.

Working two or more jobs tends to be a temporary situation for most workers. Every month, more than 30 percent of multiple job holders return to working just one job at a time.

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Multiple-Jobholding Rates

Northern states generally have higher rates than southern states, as shown in the map. South Dakota had the highest multiple jobholding rate at 8.5 percent in 2017, followed by Iowa at 8.1 percent. Florida had the lowest multiple jobholding rate at 3.5 percent.

Multiple jobholding among Oregon’s neighboring states ranged from a high of 6.6 percent in Idaho, to 5.2 percent in Washington, to just 4.2 percent in California and 4.0 percent in Nevada.

Fewer People Choosing to Work Two Jobs

The BLS study of multiple jobholding over time found that taking a new second job has become less common, which is why multiple jobholding rates have fallen over time. People who hold multiple jobs are just as likely to continue working two jobs as they always were. One explanation is that workers may have become more reliant on alternative sources of income instead of a second job. Another explanation is that fewer people are looking for enjoyment through a second job. Whatever the reason, the downward trend does not seem to be related to working-age population shifts, or to occupation or industry structure shifts in the economy.

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