More on Multiple Job Holder Data

After digging into some data on multiple job holders, the suggestion in my previous post that the state’s multiple job holders’ rate is indicative of a weak labor market overstated the value of multiple job holder rate as an economic bellwether.  While other indicators do suggest that the state’s low unemployment rate is masking some issues, one of those issues is not necessarily multiple job holders.

There are various reasons why a person takes an additional job.  For instance, in 2010 the BLS published a report examining multiple job holders for the 2000s which noted the reasons why people hold second jobs:

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Reasons for secondary job

While some of those reasons indicate a soft labor market, alone it is not a dispositive metric.  Nationally, multiple job holders as a percentage of the total work force has trended downward over the past 20 years, but has shown short-term increases during economic expansions:

Within multiple job holders are four sub-sets; multiple job holders with a full-time and part-time job (ft/pt), with two full-time jobs (ft/ft), with two part-time jobs (pt/pt), and where hours vary for either the primary or secondary job.  All but the pt/pt group have declined over the past two decades as a percentage of overall employment:

Moreover, it’s difficult to say that the pt/pt multiple job holders are involuntarily working part-time given the decline in that latter group:

The above strongly suggests that the rate in multiple job holders is pro-cyclical (meaning the rate increases during economic expansion as more jobs are available, and decreases during economic contractions).

Maine’s decade long trend regarding multiple job holders is more ambigous than the national data.  The rate of multiple job holders suggests it is pro-cyclical.  However, unlike the national trend, Maine’s rate of involuntary part-time work has increased, meaning that the rise in multiple job holders could be the result of workers involuntarily taking on part-time work:

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State level multiple job holder data is not broken down like the national data, so it is hard to draw a concrete conclusion without knowing whether multiple job holders are ft/pt, pt/pt, or ft/ft.  However, given the state’s continued rise in involuntary part-time work coupled with Maine’s stagnant wages suggests that the rise in multiple job holders could also be involuntary.

Lastly, here is the change in the rate of multiple job holders by state from 2007 to 2013:

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Change in MJH

John Haskell

About John Haskell

John graduated from the University of Southern Maine with a degree in Political Science, and from the University of Maine School of Law. He has worked in both the public and private sectors, and currently, works with a small business services company in the Mid-Coast area.