The number of people working more than one job is on the rise.
Multiple jobholders reached 8,137,000 in March, or 5.1% of the total employed population, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s up from close to 7.5 million people during the same period last year, or 4.7% of the total employed population.
But the March level was still lower than the pre-pandemic level of 8,181,000 million in February 2020 at 5.2% of the total employed population.
Among those holding multiple jobs, the number of people working their primary job full-time while taking on a part-time job reached its highest level since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. More than 4.6 million people were juggling a full-time job and a part-time one in March 2023, the second time the data surpassed the February 2020 number of 4.5 million.
The high cost of living and workers’ desires to protect themselves in the event of a layoff are the two main factors driving the rise in the share of employees with multiple jobs right now, said ZipRecruiter Lead Economist Sinem Buber in an email to MarketWatch. Employees are also looking for additional income sources to ensure they have at least one source of income if they lose a job due to a potential recession, she said.
Inflation has eased after a year of rapid growth, but prices are still high compared to a year ago. Prices for all goods and services were 6% higher in February than a year ago and food prices were 9.5% higher compared to the previous year, according to the most recent government data.
Announcements of layoffs are occurring regularly. The tech sector alone has shed more than 168,000 jobs since the start of 2023.
“With the cost of living remaining so high, it can be challenging for individuals to meet their expenses with just one job,” Buber said.
While consumers have adjusted to inflationary pressures by budgeting and spending less, many have also turned to a side job to supplement their income, especially as many pandemic-related government benefits have ended, said Anuj Nayar, Financial Health Officer at LendingClub, in a statement.
Nearly half of employed adults have supplemental income sources in addition to their paychecks, according to a recent survey by LendingClub and PYMNTS. 27% of high-income and 26% of middle-income consumers said they had a side job, the survey found.
Since the pandemic, a growing number of workers have chosen to work part-time, either because of pandemic-related burnout or other reasons such as caregiving responsibilities. But the share of part-time workers has ticked down in the past two months.
The share of people who either had a job or were looking for work rose in March, and the labor force participation rate hit 62.5%, its highest level since February 2020.
Although the labor market is still strong, hiring is slowing. The economy added 236,000 jobs in March and the unemployment rate edged down from 3.6% the previous month to 3.5%. The gains were lower than the revised 326,000 gain in January and 472,000 in February, but still higher than the Federal Reserve’s hoped- for slowdown in hiring.