Moonlighters Intend to Keep Second Jobs in 2016

By Roy Maurer Jan 11, 2016
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Nearly 9 in 10 (89 percent) workers with second jobs plan to keep moonlighting in 2016, with a majority of respondents saying they are doing so to keep up with cost of living, according to a new survey by job site Indeed.

One-third of 3,000 people with full-time jobs surveyed by Indeed said they did some other kind of work to supplement their income in 2015. Of those who worked a second job, half said they did so to supplement their income, while 14 percent said it was because they wanted to “explore a new career.”

Stagnant wage growth is part of the reason for moonlighting, according to John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement consultancy based in Chicago. “It’s really a strong employment environment, with unemployment at 5 percent and unemployment for college graduates at 2.5 percent,” Challenger said. But one significant “missing piece is wages haven’t gone up as much as might be expected in a tight labor market.”

Employers have been slow to raise salaries despite increasingly strong demand for workers in 2015, and many wage earners don’t expect that to change in 2016, said Tara Sinclair, chief economist for Indeed. “While many people take on part-time jobs for extra spending money or as a hobby, the survey shows the majority are working to make ends meet, a situation we hope to see change in 2016 as a stronger economy boosts wages.”

Wage growth is hovering around 2 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Slightly over three-fifths of the workers surveyed by Indeed said they saw little to no wage increases in 2015, one-quarter said wages increased somewhat, and only 3 percent said they saw wages increase by at least 4 percent.

Challenger noted that the prevalence of second jobs not only fills a need for supplemental income, but also is brought on by the growing ease in which second jobs can be had. “The ways to supplement income have become ubiquitous and so much easier to access. There’s much more project work available in the growing gig economy, giving people more ways to work on the side.”

The Part-Timers

The survey found that 66 percent of people working a second job part time did so in a different field than their full-time work. Nearly half took part-time jobs working for another company, 23 percent started their own business, and 26 percent said they are doing a range of jobs from babysitting to house cleaning, according to Indeed.

Fewer people are working part time strictly for economic reasons because they can’t find full-time work as the economy has recovered, according to the BLS. But the cohort of workers choosing to work part time—not because of lack of full-time work, but for more flexibility, supplemental income or to pursue personal interests, including education—has grown 12 percent since 2007. Indeed’s search data shows that searches for freelance and part-time positions have grown since 2013, Sinclair said.

“It’s becoming a choice that people can make that can help balance workers’ professional and personal lives,” Challenger said. “More people who are choosing more part-time and project work are doing so because it allows them to manage their family needs or pursue other activities.”

Moonlighting can lead to friction with workers’ full-time employers. “Especially because in many ways, it feels like more and more jobs can’t be divided into hours anymore, like when it was in the days of factory work,” Challenger said. “There’s this idea that you should be working even when you’re away from the office. Employers may have less access to those people whose time is otherwise engaged.”

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy​​

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