Multiple jobs are a big deal in Minnesota

Our Tuesday post on the broad measures of unemployment talked about people who worked part time jobs but wanted full time. That got us thinking about how many people might be working multiple part time jobs to make ends meet.

Data published recently give us a good look at how Minnesota compares to the nation. Minnesota has one of the highest percentages of multiple jobs holders in the country.


North Dakota and Nebraska were tops with 9.7 percent of employed people working more than one job in 2008. South Dakota, Vermont and Minnesota rounded out the top five with 8.8 percent of employed Minnesotans saying they worked more than one job. The national average was 5.2 percent.

Here’s a chart put together by North Dakota State researchers (click on it for a larger view):


Farm states have the highest percentage of people with two or more jobs. That makes sense given the seasonal work in agriculture and farmers who may work winter jobs. The North Dakota State analysis also fingered low wages, limited benefits and underemployment (captured by that broader U-6 measure we talked about Tuesday.)

Still, the multiple job data is kind of a mystery. It would make sense that states with high official unemployment rates also had high part-time job rates. But that’s not necessarily the case.

We wrote a post last year on working multiple jobs in a lousy economy. We used research from Dave Senf with the state employment department where I botched some important facts.

In correcting us, Senf wrote that multiple job holding was higher back in the tight labor market years of 1999 than during the recession years of 2001 – 2002.

Multiple job holding tends to be cyclical, increasing during expansions when job opportunities are good and declining as the job market weakens during recessions. Workers who wanted a second job during the labor shortage years of the late 1990s had an easier time of finding a second job than those seeking a second job during the soft job market between 2001 and 2004.

If you’re working several jobs, post below or contact me directly and tell us why.

Maybe there isn’t an absolute connection between multiple jobs and the recession. But my guess is a lot of the two-jobs holders these days are like Colin Mansfield.

Mansfield, a Public Insight Network source from West St. Paul, told us last spring:

I have two jobs. My main job was cut last year from full-time, 40 hours per week to 21 ours. My second job pays a little more, but is only 10 hours/week, teaching at a school.

I learned last week that the school has had to cut its budget so far that the teacher I work with has been moved to a different area for half his time and so my job will go down to 5 hours/week as a result. Apparently, I earn so little money that cutting my job completely would make very little difference to the school’s bottom line, so they’re keeping me on.

For now… I just turned 60 and the likelihood of finding much beyond a Wal-Mart greeter these days is minimal.

Tell us your story.

  • I hold a full time job and two very part time jobs. I work as an association professional by day (1.0 FTE) receive benefits. My two side jobs involve music, which is my passion and where I hold my degree. On Monday evenings I teach 3 piano lessons in other people’s home and on Wednesday evenings I direct a children’s choir at my church. I am compensated for both activities. I don’t see this as a chore or a need to “work” these additional hours, but a hobby that allows me to pursue my passion of music and modest income on the side.

    I’d be curious to see if this is how others responded to the poll.

  • Tom Anderson

    I was laid off my IT job about five years ago. After looking for another IT job without success I landed a retail job. It is full time and has full benefits, but the pay is so low it was impossible to make ends meet. I have added about 12 hours per week as “Tom the Gardener” doing gardening and landscaping for clients all over town. The work is fun, the pay better than my full time job and I very much enjoy my contact with a variety of people. The down side is that at my age (61) working two physically demanding jobs leaves me very tired most of the time. When I qualify for Medicare I can retire from my retail job and continue with my gardening work as a way to supplement my retirement income.

  • Laura Gudmundson

    I teach full time and work a second part time job at 10 hours a week. About half of the teachers in my district have second jobs. I’ve taught 25 years and have my masters, but paying for family health insurance takes a quarter of my gross salary. The second job makes up half of that.

  • Shawn Tweten

    A couple thoughts on this article. First, I know so many people that work two part-time jobs, or have a job on the side. I myself have had to do it for the past 5 years. It honestly baffles me that the percentages are so low, I thought this was a more common phenomena.

    Second, I see many of the red states are in the midwest. I wonder if some of the multiple jobs comes from the “ruralness” of these areas. I know in my experience with rural areas, workers are in shorter demand so you might have to convince people to work for your company on the side of something they are already doing…. and businesses are not as big so they may only be able to hire people part-time.

  • Dave Senf

    2009 Multiple jobholding data has been released -US rate held constant at 5.2, MN rate went up from 8.8 to 9.0 see