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Copyright 1997 by the Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning


Multiple Jobholding Revisited: Why is it a Regional Phenomenon?

by: David Bullard

An article in the July 1997 issue of Wyoming Labor Force TRENDS noted that multiple jobholding is most prevalent among nine states in a geographically connected region of the north central United States that includes Wyoming. What causes workers in this region to hold multiple jobs? An article in the March 1997 issue of the Monthly Labor Review (1) suggested several personal variables that explained multiple jobholding on a national level. These variables were taken from the Current Population Survey (CPS) and included the education, earnings, occupations and industries of individuals. This article instead uses characteristics of the states to examine multiple jobholding on the state level and thus explain the regional phenomenon. Analyzing the state-level data suggests that multiple jobholding is primarily a strategy to increase household income.

A linear regression model is used in this analysis with the percent of employed who hold multiple jobs as the dependent variable. Several independent variables are included which help explain the differences in multiple jobholding across states. Independent explanatory variables for each state include:

These variables, along with the multiple jobholding rate for each state are shown in Table 1. Together these variables account for over four-fifths of the variation in multiple jobholding across states (R2=0.802). Examining each of the variables leads to some interesting conclusions.

Thomas Amirault, an economist with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, writes that "the tendency to work multiple jobs increases with education." Well-educated people have many skills that are in demand. Certain professionals also enjoy a flexible schedule allowing them to work a second job. As shown in Table 2, the percent of the population 25 and over with at least a high school degree is significant at the 99 percent level. This means that there is a 99 percent chance that there is a linear relationship between high school education and multiple job holding. The positive coefficient suggests that an increase in the percent of the population that are high school graduates is associated with an increase in multiple jobholding. Figure 1 shows the relationship between multiple jobholding and the percent of high school graduates.

Amirault's analysis also shows that multiple jobholding decreases as earnings increase. At least some people take a second job as a strategy to meet basic needs or to supplement their income. The state-level analysis supports this idea. The 1996 annual average wage is negatively related to the level of multiple jobholding. As earnings increase, the level of multiple jobholding decreases. Perhaps this variable is the most intuitive and fits well with commonly held notions of multiple jobholding. Figure 2 is a scatterplot of multiple jobholding versus statewide average wage. Notice how Wyoming and several of its neighbors are clustered in the upper left-hand corner (see Map). These are states with relatively low wages and high levels of multiple jobholding.

The percent of women who participate in the labor force is perhaps the hardest variable to explain. Some suggest that people in the nine-state region have a strong work ethic and this is seen through more women working, and more people working multiple jobs. The positive sign on this variable could also suggest that households in the nine-state region are using a variety of strategies to increase household income, including multiple jobholding and having each member of the household work. Wyoming and several neighboring states are found in the upper right-hand corner of Figure 3. These states have a high percentage of women participating in the labor force and high rates of multiple jobholding. A regression line is superimposed on the scatterplot to emphasize the positive relationship between these two variables.

The percent of households with self-income from farming was obtained from the 1990 Census. Since multiple jobholding as defined by the CPS includes those who "were self-employed and also held a wage and salary job," this variable was included in the model. Amirault notes that "farming and farm work is a popular second job, probably because large numbers of smaller family farms cannot survive solely off the farm's earnings." Although it is more likely that farmers and ranchers view working in agriculture as their primary job, this observation holds true on a state level. The percentage of households with self-employment earnings from farming is significant at the 99 percent level and has a positive coefficient. Many workers in the nine-state region have family farms and seek a second job to supplement their income.

The final variable included in the model is a dummy variable representing the south region as defined by the Census Bureau. The South is a sixteen state area which includes Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas (see Map). Even when all other variables are held constant, the model predicts that states in this region will have lower levels of multiple jobholding. This shows that there is a regional component to multiple jobholding that isn't explained by other factors included in this analysis.

Comparing Figures 1, 2 and 3 reveals two groups of states (see Map). Wyoming is included in the first group, which is located in the north central area of the country. These states are characterized by low wages, a large percentage of high school graduates and high rates of multiple jobholding. A second group is found in the lower left-hand corner of Figure 2. These states, largely located in the South, have low wages like Wyoming, but they have very low rates of multiple jobholding. Figure 3 shows that many of these states, especially West Virginia, Louisiana and Florida have a low percentage of women who participate in the labor force. Figure 1 shows that they also have a low percentage of high school graduates. While workers in the South might be satisfied with low incomes and low levels of education, this is clearly not the case with Wyoming and its neighbors. Multiple jobholding is at least partially a regional phenomenon based on cultural differences--for some reason, states in the South have lower levels.

Three of the explanatory variables in this model suggest that people take second jobs to supplement their income. Another suggests that multiple jobholding is a regional phenomenon. Thus, the high rate of multiple jobholding in the nine-state region can be viewed as a sign that income growth is not keeping pace with workers' needs or expectations.


David Bullard is a Senior Statistician with Research and Planning, specializing in Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS). He is also an Associate Editor of TRENDS.

1 Amirault, Thomas "Characteristics of multiple jobholders, 1995." U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics Monthly Labor Review Volume 120, No. 3.


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Last modified on December 12, 1997 by Gayle C. Edlin.