Multiple Job Holding in Utah

By Mark Knold, Chief Economist

The number of Utah workers holding a second job has increased by nearly 50% across the past 20 years, numbering nearly 60,000 just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Multiple job holding is defined as holding two jobs simultaneously during a calendar quarter. The primary job is the one with the highest wage earnings. The secondary job is the one with the lower wage earnings.

Although the number of second jobs has increased in the past 20 years, the overall percentage of Utah workers holding a second job has hovered around 6%. Nationally, the multiple job holding percentage has declined, and currently is estimated at 5.2% of all payroll employment.

The relative steadiness of this overall percentage implies that multiple job holding in Utah operates at a fixed level.

However, that conclusion is starting to weaken. Utah’s multiple job holding is trending downward. This has occurred while the overall Utah economic environment has improved.

It is possible that the downward trend may result from a structural change in the employer/employee relationship. There is movement away from payroll employment and toward contract employment. Such an arrangement might be converting some secondary jobs from payroll jobs to self-employment. Self-employment is not captured in the unemployment insurance payroll reporting records so these jobs are no longer captured in the measurements. 

Research shows that younger workers hold second jobs more for necessity than for luxury. Utah, with the nation’s youngest labor force, might see necessity as more of a driver for multiple job holding than for luxury or personal satisfaction reasons.

Industries where a sizable percentage of their workers hold a second job are:

  • Health Care

  • Educational Services

  • Leisure and Hospitality

  • Retail Trade

  • Public Administration

All industry sectors have workers engaged in a second job, whether in that same industry or not. The industry with the highest percentage of its employment base working a second job is Health Care; around 20% and has increased by nearly six percentage points in the past 20 years.

Educational Services also has numerous employees who work a second job; around 15% of that industry’s employment base. This percentage has increased slightly but not noticeably during the past two decades.

The Leisure and Hospitality industry, Retail Trade, and Public Administration all have around 10% of their employment base working a second job. These shares are largely unchanged since 2000.

Manufacturing was an industry where 10% of its base employment held a second job. But in Utah across the past 20 years, this has trended downward and second job holding is now only about 6% within manufacturing’s employment base.

Industries targeted for finding a second job:

Leisure and Hospitality, Health Care, Information and Business Services, Retail Trade, and Education.

The most targeted industry where workers look for a second job is the Leisure and Hospitality industry. About 20% of the Leisure and Hospitality industry’s workers are there as a second job.

Health Care is a close second. About 18% of the Health Care industry’s workers are there as a second job.

Retail Trade follows with around 13% of its workers manning the store as a second job. This has trended down a bit from the 15% seen 20 years ago.

Educational Services is another industry where second job holders are sizable in their employment base, to the tune of around 14%.

Primary job holders find second jobs across the entire industry spectrum. But there are some noticeable links where the industry of the primary job holder is also the industry in which they find a second job. This linkage is not a given where the primary industry links directly to the second job, but the primary industries where it noticeably does is Educational Services to Educational Services, Health Care to Health Care, Leisure & Hospitality to Leisure & Hospitality, and Business Services to Business Services.

What’s more, those earning in the lowest primary job wage percentile (<$15,000 annually) are not the majority of multiple job holders. These are the percentages of those holding a second job based upon annual wage intervals (primary job):

  • Primary annual wage is <$15,000; 14.7%

  • Primary annual wage is $15,000 to <$31,200; 25.3%

  • Primary annual wage is $31,200 to <$52,000; 28.4%

  • Primary annual wage is $52,000 to $83,200; 19.7%

  • Primary annual wage is >$82,000; 11.9%

As for any noticeable patterns from these primary wage intervals toward specific industries for second jobs, there generally is none. However, there is somewhat of a restriction for the lowest primary job wage interval. One assumes primary workers are in this lowest annual wage interval due to a lack of skills or experience. Therefore, their choice of industries for a second job becomes limited, as many industries demand higher skills or experienced workers. Therefore, one can see that the industries these lowest primary wage interval workers are limited to are Education Services, Health Care, Business Services, Leisure and Hospitality, and Retail Trade for a second job.

Over time, secondary job wages make up around 21% to 22% of a multiple job holder’s overall wages. This share increased leading up to the Great Recession, held through the Great Recession and its immediate aftermath, but since 2015 has been trending slightly downward. This downward trend corresponds with the downward trend of overall multiple job holding after 2015.

The 21% to 22% range speaks to the average of the entire multiple job holding spectrum. In more detail, within those with the lowest primary job wage earnings that hold a second job, the second job accounts for 27% of overall wage earnings. Such a corresponding relationship then works its way downward in relation to an increasing amount of wages earned at the primary job, which results in a lessening percentage contribution from a second job. This bottoms out at 18% for primary job high wage earners.

Utah’s workforce continues to diversify and transform. Although multiple job holding has increased in total numbers during the past 20 years, the percentage of the workforce holding multiple jobs remained constant. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, altered this. Utah’s workforce during the past two years became less likely to hold multiple jobs and both the number and percentage dipped. As the state emerges from the pandemic, and the overall Utah economic environment is improving, the face of multiple job holding is adapting.