FOURTH ESTATE

Americans don’t moonlight like they used to

The Bureau of Labor Statistics looked into people who juggle multiple jobs in its April Monthly Labor Review, and it found that the practice is getting less and less popular these days.

One would think that bad recessions like the one the US is still struggling to recover from would spur people to pick up work on the side to make ends meet, but apparently not.

Portion_of_US_workforce_with_multiple_jobs-_Data_chartbuilder

The most glaring caveat, especially for those keeping a keen eye on the so-called “1099 economy” of app-enabled contract workers, is that the BLS used data that doesn’t count the self-employed as having multiple jobs (assuming workers defined themselves that way).

“Excluded from the definition are individuals who were unpaid family workers on their primary job as well as individuals who were self-employed on their primary job and were either self-employed or unpaid family workers on their second job,” the agency noted.

Still, the trend is pretty clear. The relatively rare practice of picking up multiple jobs is becoming a lot rarer.

Percentage_of_US_full-time,_single-job_workers__moving_to_multiple_jobs-_Men_Women_chartbuilder

In fact, the reverse phenomenon was far more common, though it’s also happening less often.

US_workers_with_multiple_jobs_moving_to_a_single_full-time_job-_Men_Women_chartbuilder

Why’s this happening? The biggest takeaway from the report, which runs the numbers for different genders, ages, occupational fields, and educational levels, is that we don’t really know. The report’s author tosses out a couple of possible explanations, but ultimately, Etienne Lalé, a professor at the University of Bristol in the UK, was stumped.

“The downward trend cannot be attributed either to changes in the sociodemographic composition of the working-age population or to shifts in the occupation or industry structure of the economy,” he wrote.

home our picks popular latest obsessions search