Image: David Clarke
Pat Shannahan for msnbc.com
David Clarke works the front desk at The Clarendon Hotel in Phoenix. Clarke, who works for the city of Phoenix, has had to take on a second, part-time job as a hotel clerk to make ends meet.
Alison
By Allison Linn Senior writer
msnbc.com
updated 8/30/2010 7:32:44 AM ET 2010-08-30T11:32:44

When David Clarke finishes the day at his job with the city of Phoenix, he often heads over to a local boutique hotel.

But Clarke isn’t there to meet with friends or get a drink at the bar. Instead, he dons a uniform and starts his second job as a hotel clerk.

Although it can be exhausting to work two shifts in one day, Clarke needed the extra money after he was forced to switch to a lower-paying position with the city. And in many ways, he is among the lucky ones: At least he has been able to find extra work in this tight job market, especially in a hard-hit state like Arizona.

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Even as nearly 15 million people are looking for just one job in this difficult economy, millions of Americans are finding they need two jobs to make ends meet. But the percentage of workers holding two or more jobs varies wildly depending on where you live.

In Arizona, which had a 9.6 percent unemployment rate in July, just 3.8 percent of workers held more than one job in 2009, the most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But it's a completely different story in North and South Dakota, where the unemployment rate has stayed low during the recession. In both states about 10 percent of workers held down two jobs last year, among the highest in the nation.

In Nevada, Florida, Texas and Louisiana, workers were unlikely to have more than one job. States with particularly high rates of multiple jobholders included Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wyoming.

Overall, about 6.5 million people were working two jobs — or more — to make ends meet in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That represents 4.7 percent of the work force, the lowest percentage in at least 15 years.

Clarke, 33, never expected to be moonlighting. But things changed when his job as a civil engineer for the city of Phoenix was eliminated because of a severe slowdown in construction projects.

He was relieved when the city offered him the chance to switch to an administrative job, but the new position came with a 20 percent pay cut. That left him struggling to pay his mortgage, and he’s had no luck convincing the bank to reduce his payments.

Even though he thinks the house is currently valued at a little more than half of what he paid for it in 2002, he still hopes to hang on to it — and his good credit score.

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“I love the house,” he said.

Clarke said he also enjoys his second job, despite the lack of sleep and free time that comes with it. It’s also been humbling for him to realize that despite a college degree and what seemed like a stable career choice he had to seek out extra work just to stay on top of his bills.

But for now, Clarke said he’d rather give up personal time than risk having his credit destroyed because he can’t make his housing payments.

“I don’t have a plan as to how long I’ll have to keep working the second job,” he said. “I just think I’ll be working it indefinitely until I collapse or until I get foreclosed on or until I’m willing, at some point, seeing those two coming, to just allow my credit to suffer in the interest of my own health or my own, I don’t know, sanity.”

In a tough economy when many people are dealing with cutbacks in hours or pay, it’s not unusual to find people who need to work more than one job, said economist Mike Montgomery with IHS Global Insight.

“The economy is what it is and times are far from good, and people are adapting their behavior to it,” Montgomery said.

Still, even in good economic times, there are plenty of reasons people might work two jobs, he noted.

“Some people think of a second job as providing the fun money, and to some people it’s an absolute necessity,” he said. “(For) some people, it’s just a habit.”

Angie Baker is the type of person who has always worked two jobs, but even for a workaholic her current situation is extreme.

In a typical week, she puts in 40 hours a week as a personnel technician for the Idaho Department of Finance, after which she heads straight to her second job as night manager for a small independent living facility, where she and her husband live.

On the weekends, she typically works another 12 to 16 hours at a third job in the bakery at a grocery store.

The nearly 100-hour workweeks have paid off, helping Baker and her husband pay down credit card and student loan debt and save up for a home.

Still, all that work has come at a cost to her relationship with family and friends. Because her husband works nights, she sometimes goes days without seeing him, and she feels bad that can’t spend more time with her father, who moved to Idaho to be close to her.

“Yes, it’s put us ahead financially, but it’s also been really stressful and eventually, I would presume, it will probably take a toll on my health,” she said.

The couple recently used their savings to buy a house, and she’s decided to give up her night manager job when they move in.

“We really have to focus on what’s important and probably just step back and start spending more time with the people that I care about, rather than just looking for the next paycheck,” she said.

With the economy still on shaky ground, however, not everyone is willing to give up a second source of income, even if it comes at a cost to their personal lives.

A little more than a year after graduating from college with a degree in engineering, Christopher Mader finally landed a job in his field last month.

But for now, he’s still working some nights and weekends as a bartender, the job he’d gotten while searching for an engineering job.

Although he enjoys both jobs, he admits it’s tiring to be working as many as 75 hours a week. But the second source of income is helping Mader, 25, pay down some credit card debt he accumulated during the year he was searching for an engineering job, and to work toward a goal of buying his own house.

Mader, who lives outside Springfield, Mass., also likes the security of having two sources of income.

“I just want to try to get ahead while I can,” he said. “In tougher times like it is now, I’m not taking anything for granted.”

He admits that it can be tough to rarely have two days off in a row, or to work as many as 18 hours a day. But he’s not sure what he’d do if he suddenly found himself with a normal work schedule.

“That’s a good question,” he said. “I’d probably spend a lot more time with my dog, a lot more time outside, a lot more time meeting people. I’d probably just enjoy the freedom that I have and live life a little bit.”

Working too hard? Take a break and follow me on Twitter @alinnmsnbc

© 2013 msnbc.com Reprints

Video: Cash-strapped white-collar workers moonlight

  1. Closed captioning of: Cash-strapped white-collar workers moonlight

    >>> back at 7:45, blue collar workers are no stranger to juggling jobs but the dismal economy has forced many white collar workers to begin moonlighting as well. cnbc's carl quintanilla is here with more on this story. carl, good morning again.

    >>> good morning, matt. in this shaky economy with wages being cut and near 10% unemployment, around 7 million americans have second jobs. and today more and more of them wear white collars. joe has a full-time job working at a financial services economy but when his day job is over his work is only just beginning.

    >> probably like an 8:00 to 5:00 gig with a day job and then kids to bed 7:00, 7:30 and i'm in my office until 1:00, 2:00 in the morning.

    >> joe opened his own business with his wife jennifer, an urgent care clinic in paramus, new jersey.

    >> my wife runs the operations for the center. she is here most hours of the business. yes, we're open seven days a week. i'm more on the operational side handling the financials. a lot of that stuff can be done after hours.

    >> it's called moonlighting although moonlighting is traditionally thought of as juggling two hourly jobs. more and more white collar workers are taking on second jobs, too.

    >> i grew up in a household where my dad worked two, three jobs, whatever it took to provide us with a comfortbling living and i feel the same way about my family.

    >> a recent study found among white collar workers 9% of 4,500 surveyed have taken on a second job to make ends meet. another 19% said they intend to do so some time in 2010 . and although it often takes a delicate balancing act, joe says he doesn't have any regrets.

    >> it's certainly not easy but it's well worth it. i love what i do. i enjoy putting smiles on my kids faces and i'd like to know i'm doing the right thing for my family and that's the best feeling you can have in the world.

    >> while the extra money is nice, it's a juggling act for these workers who only have 24 hours in a day.

    >> carl quintanilla , thank you very much. a career specialist for encore.org and author of "one

    person: multiple careers." nice to see you. joe 's story is going to become much more common place.

    >> it sure is. it's been that way for a while and i think it will continue.

    >> people are doing this because of necessity. the majority of the people who take on a second job don't do it because they just love working. they do it because they need to put food on the table and pay their rent. it comes with enormous sacrifices, doesn't it?

    >> it sure does as you saw with joe . when is he seeing his kids? they spend some time, put the kids to bed and he is back at a new job.

    >> so how do you know when you strike the right balance? you have to pay the rent but at some point do you weigh the risk and reward? if it's causing problems in your marriage, if it's causing problems with your children, if it's causing problems with your health, the loss of sleep and things like that, how do you figure that out?

    >> you hit it right on the head. i think you should listen to your loved ones and listen to your body. those are two really good things to keep in mind here and if something's off it may not be that the whole moonlighting thing isn't working for you but it may be the combination you chose isn't the right one.

    >> in other words, you haven't found the right fit. the two jobs you're choosing --

    >> he is kind of -- we didn't know what his day job is, right, but corporate/entrepreneur may not be the right combination.

    >> let's say you decide you either want to or have to take on this moonlighting situation, how do you approach your, shall we call them your primary employer?

    >> right.

    >> do you divulge that to your primary employer?

    >> that's a big, big question and it's a case-by-case situation. there are some employers that have an absolutely no moonlighting policy, so if you work for a company like that obviously you're going to have to be on the sly.

    >> because they're worried you're not going to do your job during the day if you're too tired from your job at night.

    >> or you may do some work that's a conflict of interest with what they do so that's a big worry and concern for an employer.

    >> if you work for coke don't get a job for pepsi?

    >> exactly.

    >> so you say comply with your employ employer's conflict of interest policy.

    >> no computers, no documents, no reports that you produced for your day job to help your consulting clients at night.

    >> always use your own personal e-mail when dealing with that second job.

    >> always. and i would not even recommend using your personal e-mail on the company's computer. if you have an independent blackberry or a device, a smartphone, use that. really, you shouldn't be doing your side work on your employer's time.

    >> yeah.

    >> do your side work -- so what i say the ideal slash for somebody who is doing this is something that's virtual or flexible. so web design , something you could do at any hour of the day that doesn't have to be confined to a specific location.

    >> good advice and something we're going to see more and more of. thanks so much. i appreciate it.

Explainer: Ten states with ridiculously low unemployment and why

  • Image: Waikiki
    Jewel Samad  /  AFP - Getty Images

    Every U.S. state experienced job losses during the recent downturn, but thanks to the right mix of industries, natural resources, and skilled workers, some states have a far lower unemployment rate than the 9.5 percent national average.

  • Iowa — Outperforming with a diverse economy plus agriculture

    Image: Farming in Iowa
    AP file

    Unemployment Rate: 6.8 percent

    Lower than U.S. rate by: 2.7 percentage points

    Major industries driving the economy: While commonly perceived as an agricultural hub, Iowa actually boasts a surprisingly diverse economy with jobs in the manufacturing, biotech, finance, insurance, and government services  —  all of which contribute to a strong hiring market. The S&P gave the state a Triple-A rating in 2009 (only one of nine to hold the position then).

    Education: 24.3 percent of the adult population has a Bachelor's degree or higher. (Lower than national average)

    Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census Bureau

  • Minnesota — A state with manufacturing, raw materials, and high education

    Image: Minneapolis skyline
    Istock

    Unemployment Rate: 6.8 percent

    Lower than U.S. rate by: 2.7 percentage points

    Major industries driving the economy: Again, the theme here is diversity. Minnesota's economy is home to a variety of firms in the finished products, services, and raw materials sectors and 33 of the nation's top 1,000 publicly-traded firms have headquarters in the state.

    Education: 31.0 percent of the adult population has a Bachelor's degree or higher. (Higher than national average)

    Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • Wyoming — Riding commodities, tourism, and perhaps its tax policies

    Image: Devil's Tower National Monument
    Mike Nelson  /  EPA

    Unemployment Rate: 6.7 percent

    Lower than U.S. rate by: 2.8 percentage points

    Major industries driving the economy: Mineral extraction, agriculture, and tourism drive Wyoming's largely rural economy. The tourism industry alone accounts for over $2 billion of the state's annual revenue. The state is also known for its unusual tax policies  —  no individual or corporate income tax and only a 4 percent sales tax on select items.

    Education: 23.4 percent of the adult population has a Bachelor's degree or higher. (Lower than national average)

    Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • Kansas — Powered by agriculture, energy, and aerospace

    Image: Pat Legleiter harvests a field of winter wheat near Liebenthal, Kansas
    Steven Hausler  /  The Hays Daily News via AP

    Unemployment Rate: 6.5 percent

    Lower than U.S. rate by: 3.0 percentage points

    Major industries driving the economy: Kansas isn't the land of Dorothy anymore, although it is still a major grain producer and retains its agricultural roots. These days, the state is also a major oil and natural gas producer and is also a hub of the aerospace industry.

    Education: 28.8 percent of adult population have a Bachelor's degree or more. (Higher than national average.)

    Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • Hawaii — A tourism magnet with a large population of the affluent

    Image: Waikiki beach in Honolulu
    Jewel Samad  /  AFP - Getty Images

    Unemployment Rate: 6.3 percent

    Lower than U.S. rate by: 3.2 percentage points

    Major industries driving the economy: Tourism dominates this tax-heavy state while food and apparel exports play more minor roles (given the distance of the islands from all other land). Also, rich folks apparently love to camp out in Hawaii as much as they might like Florida (the state had the highest percentage of millionaires in the general population).

    Education: 29.2 percent of the adult population has a Bachelor's degree or higher. (Higher than national average)

    Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • Vermont — Driven by agriculture and industries utilizing the state's highly educated population

    Image:
    Winslow Townson  /  AP

    Unemployment Rate: 6.0 percent

    Lower than U.S. rate by: 3.5 percentage points

    Major industries driving the economy: Farming (especially dairy production and logging) is the bread and butter of Vermont's economy, although manufacturing, insurance, tourism, and quarrying are also major players. Vermont's housing is also quite affordable, as the state ranks 17th in mortgage affordability nationwide.

    Education: 33.6 percent of the adult population has a Bachelor's degree or higher. (Higher than national average)

    Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • New Hampshire — Powered by agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, and a highly educated population

    Image: Crawford Notch State Park in New Hampshire
    Robert F. Bukaty  /  AP

    Unemployment Rate: 5.8 percent

    Lower than U.S. rate by: 3.7 percentage points

    Major industries driving the economy: Another agricultural heavyweight (dairy products, cattle, and apples dominate on the list of products), New Hampshire also produces machinery, electric equipment, rubber, and plastic products. Due to its famous ski slopes, the state is also a tourist hub come winter. New Hampshire also doesn't have a state income or sales tax and boasts one of the nation's highest median salaries.

    Education: 32.5 percent of the adult population has a Bachelor's degree or higher. (Higher than national average)

    Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • Nebraska — An agricultural and transport hub, with some diversity as well

    Image: Nebraska schoolchildren
    Larry W. Smith  /  Getty Images

    Unemployment Rate: 4.7 percent

    Lower than U.S. rate by: 4.8 percentage points

    Major industries driving the economy: Another state reliant on its agricultural sector, Nebraska also specializes in freight transport, telecommunications, manufacturing, information technology, and transportation. And, not to mention, it has the nation's third-wealthiest person amidst its GDP rank.

    Education: 27.5 percent of the adult population has a Bachelor's degree or higher. (Average)

    Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • South Dakota — Gets a big boost from government, but also has services and agriculture

    Image:  Mt. Rushmore
    Karen Bleier  /  AFP/Getty Images

    Unemployment Rate: 4.4 percent

    Lower than U.S. rate by: 5.1 percentage points

    Major industries driving the economy: The service sector (especially retail, health, and finance firms) dominates South Dakota's economy, although government-related enterprises also form a large chunk of the GDP. Ellsworth Air Force Base is the second-largest single employer here. Agriculture also contributes heavily to the economy, but its influence is waning.

    Education: 25.0 percent of the adult population has a Bachelor's degree or higher. (Lower than national average)

    Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • North Dakota — Powered by agriculture and commodities

    Image: Fargo
    Daniel Barry  /  Getty Images

    Unemployment Rate: 3.6 percent

    Lower than U.S. rate by: 5.9 percentage points

    Major industries driving the economy: Agriculture, petroleum, food processing, and tourism dominate the nation's most job-friendly state.

    Education: 25.7 percent of the adult population has a Bachelor's degree or higher. (Lower than national average)

    Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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