For most of the week, 22-year-old Beth Ann Brown of Centerville works at the Pandora jewelry store at The Greene Town Center in Beavercreek. She also teaches dance classes at night, and works part-time helping her boyfriend and his dad get their fledgling business off the ground.
“I’m working three jobs on top of going to school full-time at Sinclair (Community College) just to make ends meet and pay whatever I need to pay,” Brown said. “Between bills, my car payment, rent, food; that’s what I really need the extra money for.”
Brown is among a growing number of Americans holding down more than one job to earn extra income in a lackluster economy where unemployment is low but wages, in many cases, haven’t grown fast enough to pay down debt and keep up with household expenses, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The number of multiple jobholders — about half of whom hold more than one part-time job, and who supplement full-time jobs with part-time positions — is now at its highest level in eight years.
Last month, about 300,000 workers joined the ranks of multiple jobholders, pushing their numbers up to 7.8 million, or 5.2 percent of all U.S. job holders, BLS figures show.
In Ohio, 351,000 workers had more than one job in 2015, the most recent year for which state data is available, bringing the rate of multiple job-holding to about 6.5 percent.
The numbers reflect increased labor demand, including freelance and temporary employment opportunities, such as being an Uber driver. But the need to augment full-time gigs or put together a patchwork of part-time jobs underscores continued concerns about the health of the labor market, experts say.
“There are a number of challenges for multiple job holders,” said Michael Shields, a labor market researcher at Policy Matters Ohio. “For one, part-time jobs don’t necessarily carry the benefits that full-time jobs do. And workers with irregular schedules may have difficulty juggling multiple jobs so they may not have the same job security that they would otherwise enjoy.”
In addition, most multiple job holders hold at least one unskilled position, which has skewed job growth in Ohio towards low-wage professions.
“We see faster growth in a number of traditionally low-wage professions in Ohio, such as retail and restaurant work, and there’s a greater tendency in those particular sectors towards staffing people on a part-time basis, and people holding one or more of these jobs,” Shields said.
Still, not all multiple job holders are working multiple jobs out of necessity, cobbling together jobs to put food on the table or gas in their cars.
Many people work multiple jobs to save for retirement, start a business or simply save some extra money for a special purchase.