Women who work in the arts or services industries, and who are young, are the ones most likely to be working more than one job in Australia.
HILDA Survey data show that, in recent years, approximately 7% to 8% of employed people hold more than one job. And while this hasn’t been growing, the proportion of people using multiple jobs as a way of achieving full-time employment has been rising. This is when a worker combines two or more part-time jobs that add up to 35 or more hours per week.
Overall, the HILDA Survey data suggests there are two broad groups of multiple job holders. The first group is made up of those who supplement their full-time employment with a relatively small number of additional hours of employment, perhaps doing the same kind of work as their main job - such as private tutoring done by teachers and informal child care provided by child care workers.
The second group comprises those working part-time in their main job and using multiple jobs as a means to getting enough hours of work. For these people, it may be more likely that their second job is a different type of work to their main job.
This second group has grown in size since the global financial crisis, rising from approximately 54% of multiple job holders in 2008 to approximately 62% in 2015. Associated with this has been growth in people using multiple jobs as a route to full-time employment. In 2014 and 2015, approximately one in four multiple job holders were part-time in each of their jobs, but full-time in all jobs combined. This was up from approximately one in six multiple job holders in the mid-2000s.
This growth is likely to be strongly connected to the rise in underemployment - part-time employed people who want more hours of work - that has occurred since the global financial crisis.
When an increasing number of people can’t find a full-time job (or a part-time job with sufficient hours), it’s unsurprising that there is a rise in part-time employed people taking second jobs, as a solution to insufficient hours.
Women holding more than one job
It’s women who are more likely to hold more than one job. This is likely to be connected to the higher proportion of women than men who are employed part-time, since multiple job-holding is more common among part-time workers.
There are also substantial differences by age group. Employed people aged 15-24 are the most likely to hold multiple jobs, and employed people aged 65 and over are the least likely to hold multiple jobs. Women aged 45-54 are also relatively likely to have multiple jobs.
The differences by age group in part reflect the prevalence of part-time employment in each age group. People aged 15-24 are particularly likely to be employed part-time.
However, other factors are also likely to play a role. For example, a significant proportion of women aged 45-54 could be seeking to increase their hours of work as their children get older, and for some this will involve taking on a second job.
The types of work where more than one job is common
There may be some truth to the stereotype of the underemployed actor working as a waiter. Approximately 15% of employed people whose main job is in arts or recreation services industries have more than one job. People employed in education and training and health care and social assistance industries also have quite high rates of multiple job holding.
In these industries in particular, there are more opportunities for extra work in the same industry. For example, teachers may be able to privately tutor outside of school hours, and child care workers (who are in the health care and social assistance industry) can provide informal child care outside of child care centre operating hours.
Community and personal service workers, followed by professionals, have relatively high rates of multiple job holding. Managers, machinery operators and drivers and technicians and trades workers have relatively low rates of multiple job holding. These differences also reflect both rates of part-time employment and opportunities for supplemental work outside the main job.
The HILDA data further show that multiple job holding is typically not a long-term arrangement. On average, over 50% of multiple job holders in one year no longer hold more than one job in the following year. Whether this will continue to be the case if current high levels of underemployment persist remains to be seen.