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Survey shows many Americans rely on "side hustle" to pay bills

Posted at 8:05 AM, Jul 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-15 17:55:23-04

More and more Americans are juggling multiple jobs, according to a recent survey.

"Nearly half of working Americans (45%) report having a gig outside of their primary job," reported Bankrate in its SIde Hustle Survey.

The majority of survey respondents said their side gigs accounted for $500 or less of income each month.

But upon tallying up the results, the surveyors reported working Americans spend roughly 12 hours each week working on their respective side jobs, which can be lucrative for some. Side hustlers earned an average of $1,122 per month.

The survey of more than 2,500 adults also showed that three in 10 working Americans with a side job said they needed the extra income to cover routine living expenses.

Don Weimer, an economics instructor at Milwaukee Area Technical College, said he wasn't surprised by those numbers.

"More workers are having to hustle different side gigs. The textbook example is Uber drivers," he said.

"Wages have been flat since about 1980," Weimer said. "Americans are carrying a lot of debt, and I think there are fewer full-time jobs available."

Weimer said all of that means more Americans today are relying on holding multiple jobs to pay their bills, which goes against the notion that such side gigs are typically used for disposable income or to amass savings.

Weimer said the trend persists despite an improving economy and a low unemployment rate.

"Our economic theory is that when unemployment goes down, wages go up. But that hasn't really happened until the last six months to a year," he said.

The instructor added that most new jobs created as a result of the current economy have been either high-paying, like in technology, or low-paying, like at fast food restaurants or large retail chains.

"The growth has been in those two sectors of the economy. There's been very little growth in what we'd call middle class jobs," Weimer said.

Abigail Paul works more than one job. She works at a grocery store, but also babysits on the side.

She said she's fortunate that she doesn't rely on the income from both jobs to live, but added she tries to show restraint when deciding how to spend it.

"I've found I haven't been spending as much as I thought I would be," she said. "So I guess I'm saving more."