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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.


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.”


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