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A New Measure of Multiple Jobholding in the U.S. Economy
SEPTEMBER 2020
WORKING PAPER NUMBER CES-20-26
KEITH A. BAILEY AND JAMES R. SPLETZER
 
Abstract: We create a measure of multiple jobholding from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics data. This new series shows that 7.8 percent of persons in the U.S. are multiple jobholders, this percentage is pro-cyclical, and has been trending upward during the past twenty years. The data also show that earnings from secondary jobs are, on average, 27.8 percent of a multiple jobholder’s total quarterly earnings. Multiple jobholding occurs at all levels of earnings, with both higher- and lower-earnings multiple jobholders earning more than 25 percent of their total earnings from multiple jobs. These new statistics tell us that multiple jobholding is more important in the U.S. economy than we knew.
 
Summary and Next Steps:  Our goal in this paper has been to present tabulations of multiple jobholding from the LEHD data. The first challenge was creating a definition of multiple jobholding from quarterly administrative records that do not contain a measure of labor supply. We define multiple jobholding as an individual who holds two or more jobs in a quarter and at least one of the jobs is a full-quarter job. This restriction to individuals holding a long-term stable job results in a conservative estimate of multiple jobholding.  
 
We document three facts: (1) the LEHD multiple jobholding rate averages 7.2 percent over the 1996:Q2 – 2018:Q1 time period, (2) this multiple jobholding rate has been rising during the past several decades, from 6.8 percent in 1996:Q2 to 7.8 percent in 2018:Q1, and (3) the LEHD multiple jobholding rate exhibits cyclical properties, rising in expansions and falling in recessions. We are aware of the apples-to-oranges issues when comparing the LEHD and CPS multiple jobholding rates, yet we still conclude the LEHD presents a different picture of multiple jobholding in the U.S. labor market than does the CPS. The LEHD data tell us that multiple jobholding is becoming more important in the U.S. economy over the past two decades.  
 
This paper also takes advantage of the earnings information that the LEHD collects for all jobs. We use this data to provide a comprehensive picture of the quarterly earnings that individuals receive from their primary job and from their secondary jobs. The data show that, on average, earnings from secondary jobs is 27.8 percent of an individual’s total full-quarter earnings. This 27.8 percent is essentially constant over time with little if any evidence of trend or cyclicality. The data also show that multiple jobholding occurs at all levels of earnings, with both higher- and lower-earnings multiple jobholders earning more than 25 percent of their total earnings from multiple jobs.
 
Paper available at: https://www.census.gov/library/working-papers/2020/adrm/CES-WP-20-26.html
 
Point of contact: Jim Spletzer james.r.spletzer@census.gov   301-763-4069

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