Some Evidence On Those Who Hold Multiple Jobs

There's an old grim joke about those who hold multiple jobs

Comment: "Hey, did you hear the US economy created 100,000 new jobs last month?" 

Response: "Yeah, I'm doing three of them."

Holding multiple jobs isn't always a bad thing: for example, a number of doctors technically have one job at a private practice and another when they work at a hospital. But in the past, it has been hard to find detailed or consistent evidence on multiple job-holders. For example, household survey data often asks about one's main job, not about all jobs. 

Keith A. Bailey and James R. Spletzer of the US Census Bureau Have cracked this problem by finding a way to use data from the  Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD). The Census Bureau has published a readable short overview of their work in "Using Administrative Data, Census Bureau Can Now Track the Rise in Multiple Jobholders" (February 3, 2021). The full working September 2020 working paper, "A New Measure of Multiple Job holding in the U.S. Economy," is at the Census Bureau website, too.

The LEHD is based on data that the government was already collecting for other purposes: for example, data on employment that was being collected for the unemployment insurance program, or data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, and other sources. However, this data was often collected for administrative purposes (like running unemployment insurance), and so the task of the LEHD is to pull together data from a variety of sources into an anonymized dataset that can be used by researchers.  

Here are some basic findings from Bailey and Spletzer: About 7-8% of the workforce holds multiple jobs, with the share tending to rise when the economy is going well and fall during recessions. The share of people holding multiple jobs seems to be edging up over time, but slowly.  

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