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When one job isn’t enough

Working two jobs? You’re not alone.

Sarah Sachs works as an adjunct professor as well as studio manager and photographer at Sachs Photography in Hampden. That’s an improvement: at one time she worked as a freelance photographer, photo editor, adjunct professor, restaurant waitress and tutor to make ends meet.

About 5.4 percent of Maryland workers had two or more jobs in 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its Monthly Labor Review for December. That’s way below South Dakota’s rate of 9.5 percent. But it’s higher than the rates in Maryland’s five surrounding states and the District of Columbia (table, 7A), as well as the rest of the Middle and South Atlantic states.

It’s also higher than the nationwide rate of 4.9 percent.

The BLS report counts people who hold one or more jobs, which could include self-employment.

“It is an expensive state to live in,” said Daraius Irani, executive director of the Regional Economic Studies Institute at Towson University. “That could be a factor.”

Maryland has the ninth-highest cost of living in the United States, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research C2ER Cost of Living Index.

Education could also be a factor, Irani said.

According to 2009 Census data on educational attainment, the most recently reported, of the 50 states and Washington, Maryland has the fourth-highest proportion of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree and the third-highest with an advanced degree or better.

“Given sort of the higher education levels in Maryland … the full-time jobs may be geared toward people with college degrees or graduate degrees,” he said. “If someone doesn’t have a college degree or something of that nature, they may have to put together a series of jobs to make ends meet.”

That’s the case for Justin Kinsey of Hereford. He works two part-time jobs — as an emergency medical technician and an emergency services instructor for the University of Maryland.

Kinsey used to work full-time for a commercial ambulance company. Then, this summer, he took the chance to work for a startup company. When that fizzled, he was back to looking for work.

“The problem is, I don’t have a college degree, so it’s exceptionally difficult for me to even get an interview,” he said.

He’s working toward a degree, however, by taking online classes part-time, and he’s optimistic that he will eventually find a full-time position.

For some professions, even an advanced degree leads to a multi-job career.

Sarah Sachs, for instance, said that with her chosen career, she’s likely to always work multiple jobs.

“The biggest part is that I made the decision to be an artist,” she said. “The goal has been less jobs, but I don’t ever really see myself having one.”

Sachs also teaches college classes, but has found that full-time work as a professor is hard to come by.

She now works roughly 50 hours a week as a photographer, studio manager and adjunct professor. But when she first graduated with her master’s degree in photography, she worked as a freelance photographer, photo editor, adjunct professor, waitress and tutor to make ends meet.

“It keeps you from being bored, but it makes it hard to focus,” she said. “Cutting back on the jobs I have has helped me to focus … and when I get home for work, I’m able to actually be home.”

That’s the problem with multiple jobs, said Irani — quality of life.

“It does have both positive and negative implications. There’s enough work out there that people can have multiple jobs,” he said, but “Are they working to live, or living to work?”