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More Americans Hold Down 2 Jobs to Keep Cash Flow Up

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Where are all the jobs?

Well, Natalie D. Preston has two of them.

The 26-year-old from Lansing, Mich., works 9 to 6 Monday through Friday in the alumni and public relations office of James Madison College. Then, from 7 to 10, and sometimes on weekends, she’s a sales clerk at Victoria’s Secret.

“You have to do it to stay ahead of the game,” Preston said, “to have some kind of lifestyle.”

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Preston is one of millions of Americans in the ‘90s who hold down more than one job.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 7 million Americans worked 15 million jobs in 1995, and their numbers have been growing.

Multiple jobholders made up 6.6% of the country’s work force at the end of 1996, compared with 5.6% at the beginning of 1994.

Why more than one job?

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According to a bureau survey, 31% said it was to meet their regular household expenses. Nine percent said to pay off debts. Another 9% said to save money. About 8% said they were doing it to get experience or build up business; 4% said to help a friend or relative; 8% wanted extra money to buy something special; 16% said they enjoyed working at their second job; and 13% had other reasons.

Preston’s day job pays most of her bills. But if she wants to visit her family in Florida or keep a little money on hand for emergencies, she must work at night too.

“It’s not like we’re jet-setting all over the country or driving a Lexus,” she said of herself and her friends. “No matter how much you make, it’s not enough to get you through.”

Of all multiple jobholders, 58% are holding one full-time position and a secondary part-time job, according to the bureau.

Multiple jobholders worked an average of 48.2 hours a week, and 1.79 million of them worked 50 to 59 hours.

Increasingly, the legions of moonlighters are women. Their share of the multi-job work force has increased fivefold since 1971, and they now make up 44% of the total. Widowed, divorced or separated women make up the highest percentage of any group.

While financial hardship seems to be the main reason for people holding more than one job now, some experts suspect different motives will become the norm in the next century.

Roger E. Herman, an Ohio management consultant and author of the 1995 book “Turbulence! Challenges and Opportunities in the World of Work,” predicts that multiple jobs will become a way of life--not just for overtime but also to fill out the 40-hour workweek.

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Workers also will not likely stay in one job long, opting to move where they can get the best deal--in pay, benefits and hours. Increasingly, this will be contract and temporary work.

“Corporate loyalty is dead,” Herman said.

The shift in attitude is a backlash against firms that chose to increase profits by trimming work forces in the past 10 years, says Elaine Kaback, a career counselor who also teaches UCLA Extension courses.

Now, employers are looking to fill their needs with skilled people who will not necessarily receive a full-time salary or full benefits.

“There’s no gold watch anymore,” Kaback said. “It used to be your choice to stay with an employer. Now the foundation for job security is down the tubes.

“If people can’t rely on GE or IBM anymore, then they say: ‘I can depend on my skills, my contact network.’ ”

Self-sufficiency will probably extend to benefits, Herman said. He envisions a future where workers will create their own “portable benefits” portfolio, taking what they can get from each employer. Or third-party companies may arise to administer employee benefits packages, with employers paying part of the cost, he said.

Both Kaback and Herman see this work environment as a positive change, giving people control of their lives. Kaback said, however, this future may generate fear and distrust between workers and employers.

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“A bond of trust has been broken. Everyone says: ‘I’ll take what I can get.’ Employers are doing what employers do--looking for talent,” Kaback said. “I hope there will be a change where they want to hire good talent.”


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