The Big Story Blog

Good sign as number of multiple job holders rise?

Posted at 11:56 AM on December 2, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Jobs and unemployment

National jobs data released today show that the number of people holding multiple jobs in the country is up about 4 percent from last year. Oddly, That might be good news.

The federal report shows about 7.1 million working multiple jobs in November, up from 6.8 million a year ago. Much of that increase comes among people who say they have a primary full time job and a secondary part time job.

At first glance it might seem like a glum stat -- people forced to work two jobs to make ends meet. But I'm intrigued by a chart showing that this kind of multiple job status happens pretty often in good economic times.


At the same time we see an increase in multiple job holders, the Bureau of Labor Statistics today noted that the number of persons employed part time for economic reasons ("involuntary part-time workers") fell by 378,000 over the month to 8.5 million.

It's an arm-chair economic analysis for sure, but it looks like we're seeing people take on a second job because it offers an opportunity to start building income again, not because they can't find full time work.

We've been interested in multiple job holders and their experiences throughout the recession. Minnesota is consistently among the states in the nation with the largest percentage of multiple job holders.

Farm states have the highest percentage of people with two or more jobs. That makes sense given the seasonal work in agriculture and farmers who may work winter jobs. But a North Dakota State analysis also cited low wages, limited benefits and underemployment (part time, seeking full time) as reasons why people take two or more jobs.

Here's a map put together by North Dakota State researchers (click on it for a larger view):


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.

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