According to data released on Sept. 16 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, growth in wages continues to fall short of the constant upward trend in the Consumer Price Index. The release provides tangible data to back up something everyone can already feel: Wages aren’t keeping up with the cost of living.
The BLS publication “Occupational employment projections to 2022” shows that only 27 percent of jobs require a college degree. However, according to a survey from the U.S. Census Bureau, over 47 percent of U.S. citizens have an associate degree or higher. The supply of college-educated workers seems to be surpassing demand, and knowing these workers are not in high demand makes it easy to understand why wages are low.
So, what’s a freshly minted graduate to do when they land that first job after graduation? Oh, you want to pay your loans back and eat? To make that possible, many people in their 20s and 30s have been turning to an alternative solution in order to make ends meet.
Welcome to the side hustle.
Side hustles are a broad spectrum of extravocational activities. They can be simple daily tasks that provide just enough money for beer, or they can involve serious ventures with entire teams of employees and investors. A side hustle might be a passion project that uses burgeoning technology to break into new markets. Many people use side hustles that complement their main profession in order to develop secondary skills that improve their marketability in the working world—writing, for example. Low wages, fewer opportunities and steeper competition have led to the rebirth of this entrepreneurial spirit.
Sites like Forbes, Money Peach, The College Investor and the specialty site Side Hustle Nation have posted various guides and tips for the 35-and-under crowd who may be interested in secondary incomes. Most of the guides emphasize side hustles that involve selling or completing menial tasks, but these aren’t the only options out there. Know anyone driving Uber nights or weekends? Ever picked something up off of Fiverr? The only limiting factors to the side hustle realm are imagination and market.
While researching this idea of a side hustle, I reached out to people I knew in an effort to see who might be burning the midnight oil. I encountered woodworkers, franchise owners, resellers, photographers, trainers, coaches, writers, bookkeepers, home brewers and artists who work full-time jobs but return home after their day to start job number two. Their motivation ranges from passion to financial goals, but the benefits are the same for everyone: extra money and marketable skills. The extra money isn’t always Lamborghini money, but that ten dollar charge from data overage has to come from somewhere.
The benefits of a side hustle make them a no-brainer for anyone who wants to supplement their income. With a shrinking number of opportunities and an increasingly homogeneous pool of workers and stagnant wages, who wouldn’t want to take the reins?
Having a second job that is your very own might be the path one should follow to escape a hollow life. It can be the sole source of substance within a week usually only dedicated to work. This is a generation shaped by recession, and a majority of people have learned to value experiences over everything else.
What better experience is there than building your dreams with money you earned from a job that you created?
Work the day job, get the insurance and have a legitimate name to write under the employer section on a mortgage application. If you want more than the bare minimum, get a side hustle.