Holding Multiple Jobs in RI


Earlier today, I pointed to a ZeroHedge post with an interesting chart on employment in restaurants and bars, but the point of the post to which I linked was actually to highlight national trends in workers who have multiple jobs.  One reason this number is important, when tracing broad economic trends, is that the employment numbers tend to be higher than the number of jobs based in Rhode Island, and multiple-job holders should reduce that difference.  That is, a person who has two RI-based jobs would count once for employment but twice for jobs in the state.

As far as I can tell, the data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) isn’t frequent or current enough to trace as part of a regular story of the economy.  It looks like the state-level data comes out annually in August of the following year.  That said, putting Rhode Island on a chart with New England overall provides food for thought.  Specifically, the following chart shows the percentage of all employed people who say they have more than one job.



The first observation one can make about these trends is that Rhode Islanders tend to rely more often on multiple jobs, suggesting that the economy has long not provided sufficient opportunity for its residents to get by with one job.  A second observation would be that Rhode Island spikes much more dramatically during recessions.  That could mean that people with multiple jobs are, in a sense, more diversified, so they weather recessions better, while people with only a single job lose that, or it could mean recessions hurt more people, here.

The big curious question mark, though, is why the Ocean State dropped below its Rhode Island neighbors so uncharacteristically for 2012 and 2013 and then shot up the following year.  One possibility is that a larger percentage of new jobs created were adequate to fulfill workers needs, in Rhode Island, which doesn’t really jibe with other observations of our job market.  Alternately, people with multiple jobs might have given up on Rhode Island and exited the state’s labor force, figuring they couldn’t make it here.  This could be low-end workers with low-paying jobs, or it could be contractors and people whom we might see as more entrepreneurial.

But what about that jump in 2014?  Overall, for that year, we saw no spike in jobs in Rhode Island, and employment was generally higher.  That is, more people were employed, but there wasn’t a surge of jobs to explain the increase of people with additional jobs.  Of course, some of it could be an indication of the degree to which Rhode Island depends on the economies of neighboring states.

The worrying thing is that Rhode Island’s numbers by this measure over the past two decades has been a sort of leading indicator of national recession.  We spiked in the years leading up to the dot-com bust, and we spiked again in the years leading up to the housing bubble burst.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    Can’t overlook the fact that many retail and “service” jobs limit workers to a number of hours, lower than 40. 32 hours is what comes to mind, but I think Obamacare has altered that. Not a lot of people can survive on that, so two jobs are necessary. Read a book (“Nickles and dimes”?)by a woman who took a year off and tried to survive on those jobs, with a book in mind. Lots of things I never thought about. Higher rents on bus lines, roommates at age 50, low cost hair styles, etc.

    • ShannonEntropy

      That book is NICKLE AND DIMED

      One might feel deep sympathy for someone who ends up in that kind of of position in life

      Or … one might note a whole heck of a lot of bad choices a person made early in their lives to end up in that position

      It is one thing to be forced into a life of servitude
      … something quite different to put one’s self there

      • Rhett Hardwick

        Please, not too harsh. Anyone working two jobs does not fit the profile of a “welfare bum”. It can be difficult to overcome the poor decisions of youth. Those people I know who did it had family infrastructure, low cost living to finish school, day care, etc. Changing attitudes developed in those early years can be a real problem.

        • OceanStateCurrent

          I agree, less than a decade ago, I arguably had around 4 or 5 jobs any given month, depending what counted… regular construction gig, my own side work, copy editing high-tech market research, writing paid freelance articles, maintaining an unpaid commentary Web site, etc…

          I’ll acknowledge bad decisions were involved (pinning my hopes on grad school, rushing to get into the workforce, etc…), but I have a great deal of sympathy for people in that situation for whom the local economy prevents a faster exit.

          • ShannonEntropy

            Both of you are describing situations that are more or less temporary. That is understandable. I myself worked full-time during my undergrad years and even worked several part-time jobs during my graduate level years

            NICKLE & DIMED is describing and analyzing a lifestyle … not a phase of life.
            Poor choices early on often force folks into that kind of lifestyle. With women it’s usually having children they can’t afford that becomes the un·escapable yoke

            Then they end up on SNAP and in Section 8 housing as well as working several menial jobs … so those of us who made it out end up subsidizing them anyway

            So yes ,, Rhett … I do consider these people to be “Welfare bums”

          • Rhett Hardwick

            Granting all that you say, what is your recommendation for those that made poor decisions? By age 30-35, I would say those decisions are irreversible. What of those for whom menial jobs tax the limits of their capacity? We might concern ourselves about results when robots learn to stock shelves and those jobs disappear.

            Most of the social programs I am familiar with are “feel goods” and ineffective. Many actually seem to encourage poor decisions by making them sustainable.

            Those few I know who “turned it around” were originally from middle class homes and had “dropped out”. Their parents had basements to live in.

          • ShannonEntropy

            What is my ” … recommendation for those that made poor decisions?”

            I donut have one. Like you note ,, since “The System” subsidizes poor choices we are prolly in for many many more of these people as the years roll on

            What I do personally — and recommend for YOU — is to pay as little in taxes as possible so that we aren’t the ones doing the subsidizing

            Oh … and VOTE !! It duzn’t matter who you vote for or even if you donut cast a single vote once yer in that booth. The pols will see that we oldsters are the ones who show up on Election Day … and that will benefit us in the on·going generational warfare being waged right now

            Those pols are all alike is this regard
            … at least ,, I hope so

          • Rhett Hardwick

            Since you seem to enjoy them, a few more stories of “free range kids, bicycling in America”. Since we lived on “allowances” we favored the coke machine at a garage/junk yard. The owner had never seen fit to update the coin slot and they were cheap. The bottles (yes, bottles) hung in chilled water. To be removed, they had to be guided trough a maze and removed through a gateway controlled by the coin slot. One day we jammed one and couldn’t remove it. We called the owner (whose name will not be revealed) who became frustrated in trying to remove it. He went to his office and emerged with his service 1911 and blew a few holes in it. We were quite distressed, this ended the cheap cokes.

            On nights when we “camped out”, without adult supervision, we would walk to the reservoir to watch the cops being their girlfriends up the dirt access road.

            We were not free of homosexuals and pedophiles, stories on that when appropriate.

          • Rhett Hardwick

            Just recalled a few others. Mr. “Woo Woo” Watson. He spoke with a British accent and always wore a tie. He was notable chiefly because he would stand under a stone railroad arch and yell “Woo-Woo” to hear the echo. As kids we would drop in to visit “Mr. Smith”, who lived in a one room “shack” down the road a piece. He had apparently been a substantial farmer once and frequently displayed a Revolutionary War cannonball he had found. “Poor decisions”? Neither Woo-Woo, nor Handy Andy, appeared to have missed many meals.

          • ShannonEntropy

            Neither Woo-Woo, nor Handy Andy, appeared to have missed many meals.

            I have to laugh every time I read one of those articles about “Hunger in America”

            Drive thru So·Pro or Central Falls and you are infinitely more likely to spot morbidly obese porch monkeys milling about than anyone who appears to be starving to death. Just sayin’ …

          • Rhett Hardwick

            I am reminded of an aunt who had some connection with a government “surplus food distribution program” in Cranston. All I can remember is tons, and tons, of peanut butter. Some other thoughts on growing up as a “free range kid” in white America. Even crazies like “Woo-Woo” were called “Mister” Watson. Occasionally, on Sundays, we would go to the dump and shoot rats. I don’t fully understand, but apparently it was privately owned. The owner, who had no teeth, lived there in a trailer. If we became obstreperous, or maybe just because he felt like it, he would come out and yell at us. Who would yell at a bunch of kids with rifles today?

          • Mike678

            Note the word used. Even the morbidly obese get hungry…so yes, there is hunger in America!
            There are few starving people, however…except those starving for ethical leadership, accountability and so forth….

  • Rhett Hardwick

    I can’t buy into Juan Bush, but maybe he can sell this to Trump.

    “Bush, a former Florida governor, would take some controversial steps as part of his welfare plan.

    He would eliminate the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps, housing assistance programs and a cash program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

    He would use the money to give so-called “right to rise” grants to the states to let state governments fund programs they develop as the best way to address poverty.

    To encourage more Americans on welfare to seek jobs, Bush would include in “Right to Rise” grants work requirements and time limits for able-bodied adults.”

    I favor government at lower levels, perhaps even the town level (my house once belonged to an “Overseer of the Poor”, I think that means he was responsible for the “Poor Farm”) Unfortunately it would still allow some states to become “Havens” if they chose. In colonial times, it was possible for the town to give poor people enough money to get to the next town.

    • Rhett Hardwick

      I do not have complete faith in “state level”. Before the onslaught of immigrants, Massachusetts attempted to concentrate the poor in the older industrial cities. In the 80’s, if you sought a Section 8 certificate in Boston, you would be told there were none available “but if you move to Brockton you can get one”. Never a “shining city” Brockton is now a hellhole. I suspect the same is now being done to Attleboro, I judge this only from the people I see on the street.

      • ShannonEntropy
        • Rhett Hardwick

          I read that article, which I think I saw before. So, millions of dollars spent, thousands of hours of research to find “Birds of a feather flock together”. Why do they think Boston’s North End and Providence’s Federal Hill (remember when it was temporarily renamed by the city as “Fedralia Heights”) remained Italian. Because it was comfortable and they liked it. As I read the article, I wondered where do they get the names. Don’t they realize that a name like Cadillacwha, or Shitheadra does not aid you.