Multiple Job Holders: A Misleading Statistic

multiplejobholders2Each year the U.S. Department of Labor releases a report on multiple-job holders by state. In 2012, South Dakota had the highest percentage of multiple-job holders of any state in the nation with 9.5% of our workforce working more than one job simultaneously at some point during the year. Vermont and Nebraska had the 2nd and 3rd highest percentages of multiple job holders. North Dakota, which had the highest percentage of multiple job holders in 2010 and 2011, dropped to 7th with an estimated 8.0% of workers holding two jobs. The U.S. average for multiple-job holders is 4.9%. 

The general assumption of most when viewing these stats is that people who work two jobs are doing so out of economic necessity – one job is not enough to sustain them. To an extent, this is true, but it is believed that the percentage of people in this position, who must work two jobs out of necessity, is relatively consistent among the states. There is more than just economic necessity contributing to the multiple-job holders data.

Another factor that likely plays a significant role in the multiple job holder equation is seasonality:

As in past years, northern states generally had higher rates than southern states…. Five of the seven states with multiple-job holding rates significantly below the national average were located in the South region.


Northern states experience a more seasonal work flow than southern states because of weather patterns so industries like farming, tourism, and construction experience a greater ebb and flow in their workforce. Because of the seasonal nature of these industries, workers will need to supplement with a second job.

Besides the concentration of northern states, it is interesting to note that the states with high percentages of multiple-job holders are states that tend to have some of the strongest economies. In order for people to hold more than one job you need an economy that creates a large number of jobs.

The leading states (South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Vermont, Iowa, and North Dakota) all have economies that are outperforming the rest of the nation.

So while the naysayers portray this statistic as a negative, the reality is that high multiple-job holder rates are a strong indicator of a healthy growing economy.

Categories: Labor Force, Rankings

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