© Copyright 2007 by the Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning


Vol. 44 No. 2

The Effect of Average Weekly Wages on Multiple Jobholding in Wyoming: A Comparison of Industries

by: Lisa Knapp, Research Analyst

Research suggests that many multiple jobholders in Wyoming who are earning higher wages than they did in previous years are choosing to drop their second jobs. The multiple jobholding rate in high paying industries has decreased, but has increased in lower paying industries. This may mean increased staffing difficulty for employers in higher paying industries with worker shortages.

Multiple jobholders are people who, whether through necessity or for other reasons, work more than one job in a quarter. Past research shows most multiple jobholders hold two or more jobs because of financial burdens such as the need to meet household expenses or pay off debts (Bowers & Hamrick, 1997; Kimmel, 1995). However, some multiple jobholders work additional jobs for enjoyment (Mather & Scopilliti, 2004) or to gain experience (Bowers & Hamrick, 1997). Second jobs often are seasonal or low-paying (Parker, 1997) or are used to supplement seasonal or low-paying jobs. Researchers in Montana found that workers with lower earnings are more likely to hold multiple jobs (Turner & Queen, 2006). The purpose of this article is to describe the pattern of multiple jobholding in Wyoming and the effect wages have on this pattern. It appears that as wages increase, the rate of multiple jobholding decreases.


In order to analyze multiple jobholders in Wyoming, Research & Planning (R&P) developed two sets of statistics over time and compared them. R&P compared Unemployment Insurance Wage Records files, which contain records for individual workers, with the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) database, which contains records for employers. From wage records R&P calculated the number of multiple jobholders as someone employed in two or more positions where at least one of those positions is considered continuous. Continuous employment is defined as being employed by the same employer for at least three consecutive quarters (Glover, 2002). Only continuous workers were considered because they represent workers who are relatively stable in at least one job, in contrast to workers who sequentially jump from job to job. Job changers in general may not be multiple jobholders.

R&P determined multiple job holders in a different manner than the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS), used by many researchers. The CPS asks the question, “Last week, did you have more than one job (or business), including part-time, evening, or weekend work?” (Stinson, 1997). The CPS is a monthly household survey, and counts workers that are self-employed or unpaid family workers. The Wage Records database does not have that capability. However, the CPS does not look at the length of time an employee has been at a job, while Wage Records does.

The CPS estimate of the rate of multiple job holding in Wyoming for 2005 was 9.9%, compared to our counts based on administrative records (7.8%, 2005Q3). The Wyoming CPS rate was tied with North Dakota’s as the highest in the nation. Three other states also had multiple jobholding rates above 9.0%: Alaska, Nebraska, and South Dakota. The national rate for 2005 was 5.3% (Campbell, 2006).

R&P compared the average weekly wage to multiple job holding counts over time. Average weekly wages are the average wages earned each week by all employees in an industry. These wages are computed by dividing an industry’s total quarterly payroll by the average monthly number of employees reported during that quarter, divided by 13, the number of weeks in a quarter. The average weekly wages for each industry can be viewed online (http://doe.state.wy.us/lmi/QCEW_OTY/toc.htm).

Because the value of the dollar fluctuates over time due to inflation and deflation, it is necessary to adjust them to one point in time. To accomplish this R&P used the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to adjust all wages to 1992 dollars. For example, the average weekly wage for all industries in 2005Q3 was $640, but when adjusted to 1992 dollars it becomes $451. Likewise, the average weekly wage for workers in the Construction industry during the same period was $704, adjusted to $496 in 1992 dollars. This makes wages comparable across all periods.

In order to describe the apparent interaction of wages on job holding, R&P examined the percent of multiple jobholders in All Industries (see Figure 1); those in Construction, a comparatively high-paying industry (see Figure 2); and in Leisure & Hospitality, a comparatively low-paying industry (see Figure 3). Because employment and wages tend to rise and fall seasonally, a four-quarter moving average was added to better show trends over time. Tables showing wage and demographic information for Wyoming industries can be found at http://doe.state.wy.us/lmi/wfdemog/toc3.htm 


In general, the level of multiple jobholding across All Industries showed an increase through 2001, at which point the trend reversed and the percentage of workers with more than one job began to decline. Overall, the percentage of multiple job holders in all industries has been steady, between 8.5% and 11.0%. The rate of multiple job holding began to increase again in 2005, perhaps in response to increasing fuel and heating costs. At the same time, average weekly wages for all workers showed slight declines through 1997 and then began to slowly increase (from $394 in 1993Q2 to $451 in 2005Q3).

The Construction industry regularly had a lower rate of multiple job holding than either Leisure & Hospitality or All Industries. The percentage of people with two or more jobs began to decline in 1997, and showed more rapid declines beginning in 2001. Average weekly wages for Construction also have historically been higher than those in Leisure & Hospitality or All Industries. These wages dropped slightly in the early 1990s, but started to increase starting in 1996 and have continued to increase. Average weekly wages for Construction workers were $407 in 1993Q2 and $496 in 2005Q3.

In comparison, the Leisure & Hospitality industry has consistently had a higher rate of multiple job holding than Construction or All Industries. Multiple job holding activity in Leisure & Hospitality increased through 2001 when this rate dropped slightly, picked up again in 2003, and has continued to increase since. Average weekly wages in the Leisure & Hospitality Industry are consistently less than half of those in the Construction industry. While they did show some increase over time, it was minimal (from $171 in 1993Q2 to $210 in 2005Q3).

The evidence suggests there is a tipping point beyond which average weekly wages are high enough to justify working at only one job while still affording a comfortable lifestyle. It appears that this wage threshold is approximately $425 in 1992 dollars ($598 per week in 2006 dollars).

Figure 1 shows the percentage of multiple job holders in all industries began to decrease at the end of 2001 (2001Q4), the same time that average weekly wages crossed and remained above the $425 per week threshold. This pattern is more distinct in Figure 2, which details trends in the Construction industry. Average weekly wages crossed this threshold and remained above it in third quarter 1997, and the decline in multiple job holders followed in the next quarter. In contrast, average weekly wages in Leisure & Hospitality (Figure 3) have not yet reached $425 per week, and the percentage of multiple job holders in this industry also has not shown a consistent decline.


The percentage of multiple job holders in All Industries has generally declined over the past six years. However, when the industries are examined separately differences appear. Multiple job holding substantially decreased in higher paying industries such as Construction but increased in lower paying industries such as Leisure & Hospitality. There appears to be a wage threshold beyond which household expenses can be comfortably met. At this point the rate of multiple job holders begins to decline in both the All Industries category and in the Construction industry. However, further analysis could determine whether wages have a statistically significant impact on the rate of multiple job holding.

Multiple job holding can have many effects on employees and employers. There is little, if any, research on the effects of multiple job holding on the employee, but, because it appears that a higher percentage of multiple job holders work in lower wage industries. It is likely these workers spend more time commuting and have higher costs associated with transportation and child care. Conversely, when increased wages allow multiple job holders to drop their second jobs, job vacancies in an area increase. This poses staffing problems for employers in states such as Wyoming with low unemployment rates where shortages of available workers in certain industries already exist.


Bowers, D. & Hamrick, K., eds. (1997). Nonmetro multiple jobholding rate higher than metro. Rural Conditions and Trends, 8(2). Retrieved April 12, 2007, from http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/RCAT/RCAT82/rcat82e.pdf

Campbell, J. (2006, November). Multiple jobholding in states in 2005. Monthly Labor Review Online, 129(11). Accessed April 16, 2007, from http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2006/11/contents.htm

Glover, T. (2002). Turnover Analysis: Definitions, process, and quantification. Retrieved April 12, 2006, from http://doe.state.wy.us/LMI/w_r_research/Turnover_Methodology.pdf

Kimmel, J. & Conway, K.S. (1995). Who moonlights and why? Evidence from the SIPP. Upjohn Institute Staff Working Paper 95-40. Retrieved April 12, 2007, from http://www.upjohn.org/publications/wp/95-40.pdf

Mather, M. & Scopilliti, M. (2004). Multiple jobholding rates higher in rural America. Rural Families Data Center: Population Reference Bureau. Retrieved April 12, 2007, from http://www.prb.org/rfdcenter/MultipleJobholdingRates.htm

Parker, T. (1997b). Multiple jobholding among rural workers. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved April 12, 2007, from http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/agoutlook/nov1997/ao246f.pdf

Stinson, J.F. (1997, March). New data on multiple jobholding available from the CPS. Monthly Labor Review Online, 120(3). Accessed April 13, 2007, from http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/1997/03/contents.htm

Turner, T. & Queen, J. (2006, June). Wages for continuous single and multiple jobholders in Montana. Montana Economy at a Glance. Retrieved April 12, 2007, from http://www.ourfactsyourfuture.org/admin/uploadedPublications/1559_June06_EAG_Web.pdf

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