Skip to content

The Higher the Degree, the More Likely You Are to Hold Multiple Jobs


Thursday, February 28, 2019

multiple job holders
Many assume that people who hold multiple jobs need to do so to make ends meet. But, according to a recent Economic Synopses essay, the people who are most likely to be high earners—those with advanced degrees—are also the most likely to have multiple jobs.

Research Officer and Economist Guillaume Vandenbroucke and his co-authors—Stéphane Auray of Center for Research in Economics and Statistics and David Fuller of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh—also found that overall the percentage of workers with multiple jobs has declined in recent years.

Percent of Those Holding Multiple Jobs Declines

The percentage of workers with multiple jobs rose during the mid-1990s, from around 6 percent to around 6.5 percent. It then started a steady decline to around 5 percent in the mid-2010s. Both men and women saw a decline in the percentage of workers with more than one job compared to the mid-1990s.

“Thus, if holding multiple jobs indicates a problem, that problem seems to be less of a concern today that it was 20 years ago,” the authors wrote.

There are similar patterns when workers are segmented by education level. That is, the shares of workers with varying levels of education—ranging from having less than a high school degree to holding an advanced degree—have all declined since the mid-1990s.

Education Level and Holding Multiple Jobs

“Interestingly, the percentage of workers with multiple jobs rises with education,” Vandenbroucke, Auray and Fuller wrote.

The larger percentage is interesting, the authors explained, because it seems inconsistent with the idea that those who hold multiple jobs are having a hard time making ends meet.

“If that were really the case, we would expect that holding multiple jobs would be more prevalent among workers who are more likely to earn low pay on any single job—that is, the least-educated workers,” they wrote.

Why Advanced Degree Holders May Work Multiple Jobs

The authors noted that delving into all the details behind holding multiple jobs was beyond the scope of their essay, but they did offer a few possible ideas.

Mortgages

One idea the researchers floated was that more educated people are more likely to purchase homes: Perhaps they need to take on extra jobs to fulfill their mortgage commitments.

“The data, however, are not strongly supportive of this assumption,” the authors wrote. “When one’s economic circumstances deteriorate, one can sell his or her house instead of taking on a second job.”

Children

Vandenbroucke, Auray and Fuller also posited that wealthier families have become more likely to have more children than such families did in the past. Their research showed that those who hold multiple jobs indeed tend to have more children than those who have a single job.

“More research may provide insight into these and other possible motivations to hold multiple jobs as well as theories to explain the decline in the number of multiple-jobholders over time,” they concluded.

Additional Resources

Posted In Labor  |  Tagged guillaume vandenbrouckelaboreducationmultiple jobs
Commenting Policy: We encourage comments and discussions on our posts, even those that disagree with conclusions, if they are done in a respectful and courteous manner. All comments posted to our blog go through a moderator, so they won't appear immediately after being submitted. We reserve the right to remove or not publish inappropriate comments. This includes, but is not limited to, comments that are:
  • Vulgar, obscene, profane or otherwise disrespectful or discourteous
  • For commercial use, including spam
  • Threatening, harassing or constituting personal attacks
  • Violating copyright or otherwise infringing on third-party rights
  • Off-topic or significantly political
The St. Louis Fed will only respond to comments if we are clarifying a point. Comments are limited to 1,500 characters, so please edit your thinking before posting. While you will retain all of your ownership rights in any comment you submit, posting comments means you grant the St. Louis Fed the royalty-free right, in perpetuity, to use, reproduce, distribute, alter and/or display them, and the St. Louis Fed will be free to use any ideas, concepts, artwork, inventions, developments, suggestions or techniques embodied in your comments for any purpose whatsoever, with or without attribution, and without compensation to you. You will also waive all moral rights you may have in any comment you submit.
comments powered by Disqus

The St. Louis Fed uses Disqus software for the comment functionality on this blog. You can read the Disqus privacy policy. Disqus uses cookies and third party cookies. To learn more about these cookies and how to disable them, please see this article.