Reclaiming Common Sense

If the Economy is So Good Why Are People Working Two Jobs?

This column focuses a considerable amount of effort covering the Employment Situation Report. The numbers that are reported are the seasonally adjusted data. We have been seeing very weak job growth this year. We saw seasonally adjusted worker loss (Current Employment Statistics) during May. We could have seen SA CES Job loss reported during August. We should have seen SA CES worker loss reported during September.

This column has produced a number of articles on the Multiple Jobholder Situation:

Now we have an elevated level of People Working two part-time Jobs - and near record levels of people working two full-time jobs.

We have 7.846 million workers working two Jobs. We last saw levels this high during September of 2006. We saw similar and higher level of dual jobholders during September of 1998. Why are so many people working multiple jobs? Wages have been sluggish for years, if not decades. If people need to earn more money and one  jobs does not pay the bills they only have one choice: work two jobs.

We Saw Over Two Million People Working Two (or more) Part-time Jobs during September. Last year that number during September was just below 2.000 million at 1.999 million. This September we saw 2.087 million people working two or more part-time jobs.

We  saw Over 300,000 people working Two Full-time Jos during September. Think about it this way, the last time we had 300,000 people working two full-time jobs was during 2002 as the economy was heating up after the September 11, 2001 recession.

Is the Workforce Participation Rate Artificially High? The dual jobs data comes from the Current Population Survey (CPS) Data. The President's "Jobs Number" comes from the seasonally adjusted Current Employment Statistics (CES) number. The CPS data is used for the unemployment rate and the participation rate. If we have 7.8 million people working two jobs, then they are double counted in the CPS data and double counted as employees.The workforce participation rate  62.83% NSA.

Should it be under 62%? If we subtract half of the 7.8 million from the participants level the workforce participation rate would be 61.29%  This is not quite fair. Would those jobs be filled by workers who are not currently working? Was President Clinton's workforce participation rate artificially low, at record highs, because he had people working two jobs?

We have a failure to participate. This elevated level of dual jobholders may be masking the unemployment rate for years to come. If people are working two jobs and lose one, even if it is a full-time job, will not qualify for benefits because they are still working one job. If people lose both part-time jobs simultaneously they will not qualify for benefits because they are both part-time jobs.

We are working harder - some of us. If the numbers don't compute, audit the data. The Effective Unemployment Rate is between 9.66% and 11.77%. Would it be higher if less people were working two jobs or lower if people without one job reentered the workforce?

It's the economy.