Moonlighting

By James, Jonathan | Economic Trends, December 2012 | Go to article overview

Moonlighting


James, Jonathan, Economic Trends


12.05.12

For some workers, one job isn't enough. In any week, more than 5 percent of workers hold more than one job (about 7.2 million people in October 2012). While most multiple jobholders work only two jobs, a significant share, about 10 percent, work three or four jobs.

[GRAPHIC OMITTED]

Reasons for Holding Multiple Jobs

Non-response                                                2.4%

To meet expenses or pay off debt                           25.6%

To earn extra money                                        38.1%

To build a business or get experience in a different job    3.7%

Enjoys the second job                                      17.6%

Other reasons                                              12.5%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Why do workers hold multiple jobs? The reasons are varied. One explanation is that workers may use multiple part-time jobs as a substitute for one full-time job. This is evident in the data. Part-time workers are more than twice as likely to work a second job as full-time workers. Yet still more than 4 percent of full-time workers hold multiple jobs.

Another explanation for working multiple jobs is that a worker's main job provides income and their second job gives them an opportunity to do something they enjoy. In 2004, the most recent year in which multiple jobholders were surveyed on the reasons for taking extra work, almost 20 percent reported that they did so because they enjoyed the work done on their second job.

However, in this same survey, the primary reason most workers held multiple jobs was to supplement their income from their main job. Almost two-thirds of workers identified wanting to earn extra money or needing the additional income to meet current expenses as the primary reason for working more than one job.

The incidence of moonlighting shows important patterns across demographic groups. It has been well documented that females are more likely than males to hold multiple jobs. Perhaps less well known is that the rate of multiple job holding varies significantly by education level. Those with some college or a college degree are almost twice as likely to hold multiple jobs as those with just a high school degree.

It is unclear whether these differences are driven by differences in workers' preferences or by other labor market factors. One important factor in the decision to moonlight may be the type of work performed, or occupation, on the main job. This may be due to the fact that some occupations offer fewer hours to workers or have irregular work schedules, which may make moonlighting more necessary or amenable.

[GRAPHIC OMITTED]

Unsurprisingly, the decision to moonlight is highly related to occupation on the main job. Moonlighting is strongest for education occupations, where the rate is 12 percent for males and 8 percent for females.

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