Approximately 5% of Americans currently work multiple jobs, likely just to make ends meet. However, recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that this percentage is nearly twice as high in Midwest states, with anywhere from 8.7% of South Dakotans to 6.9% of Idahoans working multiple jobs. Economists have proposed a number of theories to explain this trend, everything from the region’s relatively low wages to the Midwest’s strong work ethic.
Randolph Cantrell, a rural sociologist at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Rural Futures Institute, recently told Omaha’s World-Herald that the type of labor common in the Midwest could partially explain this trend. “In rural areas there are not a lot of established businesses to provide services, but there are people who know how to do things,” he said. “If you grow up in a rural community, you learn to work with machines, animals. You can fix a car, fix a tractor—those are transferable skills.”
The article also highlights another interesting trend: those with some college education are more likely to work multiple jobs than those with a high school diploma, suggesting that the higher wages associated with college education provide even further incentive to pick up extra work.