Inside the World of Multiple Jobholders: Two Decades of Trends

October 13th, 2014
in employment

by Doug Short, Advisor Perspectives/

What are the long-term trends for multiple jobholders in the US? The Bureau of Labor Statistics has two decades of historical data to enlighten us on that topic, courtesy of Table A-16 in the monthly Current Population Survey.

Follow up:

At present, multiple jobholders account for slightly less than 5% of civilian employment. The survey captures data for four subcategories of the multi-job workforce, the current relative sizes of which I've illustrated in a pie chart. Note that the distinction between "primary" and "secondary" jobs is subjective one determined by the survey participants.

Note: Not included in the statistics are the approximately 0.20% of the employed who work part time on what they consider their primary job and full time on their secondary job(s).

Let's review the complete series to help us get a sense of the long-term trends. Here is a look at all the multiple jobholders as a percent of the civilian employed. The dots are the non-seasonally adjusted monthly data points and a 12-month moving average to highlight the trend. The moving average peaked in the summer of 1997 and for the past three months has been stuck at its historic low at 4.81%.

The next chart focuses on the four subcategories referenced in the pie chart. The trend outlier is the series illustrated with the red line: Multiple Part-Time Jobholders. Its trough was in 2002 and has been trending higher long before Obamacare. We also see a significant change for the employed whose hours vary between full- and part-time for either their primary or secondary job.

Here is a closer look at the two cohorts that have changed the most since the mid-2000s. I've rescaled the vertical axis to give us a clearer view of the trends.

The Great Recession noticeably increased the percentage of multiple part-time jobholders. This metric leveled out in 2010 and 2011, but it has subsequently resumed its upward trend. I seems likely that the downward trend for the cohort whose hours vary for their primary or secondary job (the green line) has to some extent contributed to the rise of the exclusively part-timers (the red line). It is certainly possible that the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) has been a factor in these trends as companies weigh burden of regulations in their decisions about the full- and part-time employment.

For a more detailed look at the broader topic of the full-time / part-time ratio see this monthly update.

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