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July 1990, Vol. 113, No. 7
Multiple jobholding up sharply in the 1980's
John F. Stinson, Jr.
As the U. S. economy expanded vigorously after the recessions of the early 1980's, many Americans took advantage of the rising demand for labor by taking on a second job. Spurred by the growing availability of jobs or driven by the desire to meet economic needs, they engaged in "moonlighting" activities in unprecedented numbers. According to a survey conducted in May 1989, more than 7.2 million persons held two or more jobs, an increase of 1.5 million (26 percent) from 1985, the last time the survey was taken, and 2.5 million (52 percent) since 1980. With these increases, the multiple jobholding rate-the proportion of all employed persons with two or more jobs-reached 6.2 percent in 1989, up from 5.4 percent in 1985 and 4.9 percent in 1980. At 6.2 percent, the rate was the highest in more than three decades.
Given this rapid increase in multiple jobholding in such a short period of time, it is not surprising that many dual jobholders were reported in the May 1989 survey as having only recently joined the ranks of moonlighters. Still, there were many for whom working at two jobs had been a normal practice for many years. About one-fourth, for example, had been holding down two jobs for more than 5 years.
These findings are based on the data collected from supplementary questions asked in the Current Population Survey (CPS) in May 1989.1 For the purposes of this survey, a multiple jobholder is an employed person who, during the survey reference week, (1) had a job as a wage and salary worker with two employers or more, or (2) was self employed and also held a wage or salary job, or (3) worked as an unpaid family worker on the primary job, but also had a secondary wage or salary job.2 The primary job is defined as the one at which the individual worked the greatest number of hours.
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1 The CPS is a monthly survey of about 60,000 households that provides the basic labor force and unemployment data for the Nation. The supplementary questions in the May 1989 CPS were the first attempt to gather information on multiple jobholding since the May 1985 CPS. Before that, data on multiple jobholding were collected annually each May through 1980. For the most recently published reports on multiple jobholding, see "Multiple jobholding reached record high in May 1989," Bureau of Labor Statistics News, USDL 89-529, Nov. 6, 1989; John F. Stinson, Jr., "Moonlighting by women jumped to record highs," Monthly Labor Review, November 1986, pp. 22-25; and "Moonlighting: a key to differences in measuring employment growth," Monthly Labor Review, February 1987, pp. 30~-3 1.
2 Also included in the count of multiple jobholders are a small number of persons who had two jobs simply because they changed jobs during the survey week. Excluded are persons employed only in private households (for example, as a cleaner, gardener, or babysitter) who worked for two employers or more during the survey week, because working for several employers is considered an inherent characteristic of private household work, rather than an indication of multiple jobholding. Also excluded are self-employed persons with additional farms or businesses and persons with secondary jobs as unpaid family workers.
Note should be made of the treatment of incorporated self-employed workers (individuals who worked for corporations they themselves owned) in the multiple jobholding data. In the regularly published data from the CPS, incorporated self-employed workers are included among wage and salary workers, so that only unincorporated self-employed workers are actually classified as self-employed. This distinction is maintained in the multiple jobholding data in one sense but not another. In these data, the incorporated self-employed are included among wage and salary workers; there were about 85,000 incorporated self-employed workers out of 6.8 million persons working as wage and salary workers on their primary job and about 410,000 out of 5.3 million classified as wage and salary workers on their second job. Also, as in the regularly published CPS data, the dual jobholders classified as self-employed on either their primary or secondary job are those who are not incorporated. The difference in treatment arises when there is some combination of incorporated (I) and unincorporated (U) self-employed persons on the primary and secondary job. As mentioned earlier, self-employed persons with additional farms or businesses are excluded from the count of multiple jobholders. Strictly speaking, this category includes only those persons who are classified as U on both their primary and secondary jobs. However, it was felt that the spirit of the principle of excluding persons who were self-employed in two jobs from the count of multiple jobholders was best met by also excluding persons who had combinations of U-I, I-U, and I-I on their primary and secondary jobs. In May 1989, the effect of excluding these combinations as well was to lower the count of multiple jobholders by about 250,000.
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