Workers worried about a ‘looming recession’ are taking up more side jobs

Taylor Beal has a full-time job in education and also works not one, not two, but three side jobs. In addition to being a property manager, Beal runs a travel blog and also takes on gigs as a school curriculum consultant.

“I would love to be able to step down from one of my side gigs at some point, but our costs keep going up and our daycare, which is 30% of our take home (salary), is rise as well,” said the 32-year-old from Townsend, Delaware.

Zach VanderGraaff, who works full-time as a digital marketer, echoes this sentiment. A tuba player by trade, VanderGraaff works three side gigs and even takes on the occasional fourth, giving private music lessons.

“I used to only have one gig that I did to pay off debt, but everything has become so expensive, especially groceries, and we have three sons to feed,” said the 34-year-old from Midland, Michigan. “It’s just gotten harder to make ends meet.”

In today’s challenging environment, having one or two gigs may no longer be enough, said Dennis Consorte, a small business consultant and host of the SnackableSolutions podcast. “If I had to guess, I’d say somewhere between 10% and 15% of all American adults work two or more side jobs.”

A new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that 15% of workers have an independent contractor job after conducting a large-scale telephone survey. That’s double previous estimates.

KATOWICE. POLAND – March 26, 2021: Uber eats couriers on scooter delivering food (Photo: Getty Creative)

43-year-old Erik Allen, who works full-time in sales, currently has seven side gigs – and is even willing to take on more. “I’m open to additional income streams.”

One driver behind this trend — in addition to ongoing inflationary pressures — is fear, Consorte said. “People are afraid of this looming recession. The natural response to this fear is to make more money.”

“Gigs give you instant money and some financial stability, which is more important than ever these days given the volatility of the landscape,” said side hustler Shonnita Leslie of Houston, Texas. “I plan more wisely now for the unexpected.”

“People are also starting to realize that life is becoming more decentralized,” Consorte said. “Central offices are an outdated way of working. People continue to work a hybrid schedule, and instead of relying on one employer, they take on a variety of gigs.”

January 18, 2020 San Francisco / CA / USA - UBER and Adroit stickers on the rear window of a Toyota Prius Hybrid ride-hailing vehicle in San Francisco

January 18, 2020 – UBER and Adroit stickers on the rear window of a Toyota Prius Hybrid ride-hailing vehicle in San Francisco (Photo: Getty Creative)

“The first bucket of side-hustlers are those who want to leverage their skills and find offshoots of their careers,” said Mike ter Maat, a Libertarian economist. “The second bucket are those who pursue interests they’ve always had, and the third bucket of side hustlers are those who take gigs that don’t require a specific skill set.”

Employers need to adapt to this new reality, which has been rapidly accelerated since the pandemic, Consorte said. “There is a cultural shift underway, and this shift toward more gigs is an indicator of what’s ahead as we get deeper into recession.”

“Side gigs are exploding,” Consorte said. “Full-time jobs are dead.”

Personal finance journalist Vera Gibbons is a former staff writer for SmartMoney magazine and former correspondent for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. Vera, who spent more than a decade as an on-air financial analyst for MSNBC, currently serves as co-host of the weekly apolitical news podcast she founded, Nix.

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