An Introduction to Our Newest Research Project: Multiple Jobholders

By Jeremias Solari, Assistant Director / Chief of Research

Many of us know a person with a second job, or we may even hold a second job ourselves. Having a second job seems to be a considerable part of the labor market. This article provides an introductory look at an upcoming research project undertaken by the Utah Department of Workforce Services upon multiple jobholding in Utah. The concept is of interest as it is connected to core labor market health measures. In addition, to our knowledge, a subsurface look into Utah multiple jobholding has never been undertaken. Therefore, we endeavored to answer some of the following questions about multiple jobholding in Utah:

  • How many people hold multiple jobs?
  • Why might people hold multiple jobs?
  • Has multiple jobholding changed over time?
  • What do the wages look like for multiple jobholders?
  • Are some industries more likely to have multiple jobholders?

As part of administering the state’s unemployment insurance system, the Department of Workforce Services receives wage data on a quarterly basis from the vast majority of Utah employers. We can mine this extensive data for research purposes. Our first step was to create an “operational” definition for a person who is a multiple jobholder. We decided the definition should center upon individuals who have consistent primary employment (quarter-over-quarter same employer) and who also had one or more additional wage records during the same quarter. With this definition we are able to query data and answer the question of how many and what percentage of people hold multiple jobs in Utah?

Next, we wanted to evaluate multiple jobholder’s wages. What were the annual wages of their primary jobs? What about their secondary? The wage levels help us understand the potential reasons behind people deciding to hold multiple jobs. We were also interested in seeing the “distribution” of wages. What are the intervals between the highest and lowest earners? How many people fall in the quantiles (think five buckets each representing 20% intervals)? The distribution is useful in helping us understand if there is more than just wages as a multiple jobholding motivation. For example, if we saw a lot of people on the higher end of the wage distribution, then we could make an inference that low primary wages are not the motivating factor for holding a second job. The levels and distribution of wages can help us evaluate the economy’s “need” for multiple jobholding.

Lastly, the wage records affords us the ability to analyze the multiple jobholding behavior by industry. This is useful information at a labor market level. Are there industries that rely upon multiple jobholders as part of their labor supply? If so, why might this be the case? Marrying this information with the wage level and distribution data allowed us to create hypotheses as to why this might be the case. The answer to questions like these have labor market implications, and could help inform public policy to target specific industries.

We are excited to publish this research in the coming months and consider this first look as the hors d'oeuvres. As such, we hope this first look will leave you hungry for more information. The main course will be served (published) soon, and it will have nuanced answers to the questions posed here and more. In the meantime, please review the following Bureau of Labor Statistics report on multiple jobholding at a national level. This report helped couch many of the questions in our forthcoming research report: