Shedding Some (Moon)light on U.S. Employment Figures – Guest Post by Amy Robinson

From Jen: I’m on vacation this week, and as has been my tradition over the last few years, I’ve invited a few folks in the industry to guest blog this week. Today I am thrilled to bring you this excellent post by Amy Robinson,  Chief Marketing Officer and Senior VP of the Direct Selling Association. She shares with us some surprising information about how direct selling’s impact on the economy is underestimated. Thank you, Amy, for sharing your thoughts today!

Amy Robinson

Shedding Some (Moon)light on U.S. Employment Figures
by Amy Robinson

I stumbled on an article published by The Northwest Indiana and Illinois Times (NWI) citing a recent Department of Labor report that about 8 million Americans moonlight – meaning, they work a second job.

Direct selling is one of seven “moonlighting” opportunities identified in the article, which also asserts that the number of people securing a second source of income has continued to rise in recent years. While it isn’t a surprise that more people are looking for alternate sources of income and that direct selling is a great choice in that regard, the numbers cited by the Department of Labor simply don’t add up.

With 15.6 million people participating in direct selling in the US in 2011, and nearly 90 percent of those individuals reportedly operating their direct selling business part-time, how can there only be 8 million “moonlighters”?

The answer in consistent with a sad truth we’ve known for some time – the direct sales channel is under-counted in U.S. labor statistics. This vibrant method of product distribution doesn’t get nearly enough credit for providing people with a supplemental income source.

Although the article doesn’t reveal just how the Department of Labor arrived at its figure, it’s safe to assume that the figure wasn’t simply the result of a mathematical blunder. Whether the under-estimation is a result of the survey method, or a misunderstanding on the part of respondents about how to classify their direct selling activities, the fact of the matter is we know direct selling is a much more powerful force than is represented by these numbers.

Just think: if these figures were adjusted to accurately reflect the entire part-time direct selling population, perhaps the direct sales channel would gain more recognition for its influence on the national economy. Maybe even, we would find increasing numbers of today’s direct selling experts at the national leadership table.


 Amy Robinson joined the Direct Selling Association in August 1999 and has held several positions prior to her current role as Chief Marketing Officer. Amy is responsible for all aspects of the association’s communications program including outreach to trade and mainstream media, branding and marketing, and administration of DSA’s online and social media strategy. Amy earned her Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) in 2007 and earned the designation of Certified Association Executive (CAE) from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) in 2009. She was also elected to the Board of Directors of the National Capital Chapter of PRSA in 2009 and is currently serving her fourth term. Amy previously worked on Capitol Hill as a Legislative Correspondent for former U.S. Representative Harold L. Volkmer (D-MO), and in the Government Affairs Department at the National Association of Home Builders. She holds a Master’s degree in Legislative Affairs from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and bachelor’s degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Missouri – Columbia.


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