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Nearly 1 in 3 American workers with a side hustle still struggle to make ends meet


Despite a healthy economy and growing labor force, 3 out of every 10 American workers who have taken on a side hustle say they need that second job to simply make ends meet.

That's according to's latest Side Hustle Survey of 2,550 full-time and part-time working adults conducted online in early May.

"Though the economy is strong, many Americans are finding it necessary to work on the side to make ends meet," said Amanda Dixon, an analyst for the personal finance website.

I barely live paycheck to paycheck.
Christian Cimoroni
content designer and "side hustler"

The average side hustler brings in an extra $1,122 per month, working 12 additional hours a week, said.

While two-thirds of survey participants said their extra income accounts for less than half of their monthly earnings, nearly one in three said the extra cash is needed to pay regular living expenses.

Millennials are the most likely age demographic to take advantage of the gig economy, the survey found, with 31% percent of young adults (those between ages 23 and 38) saying they earn extra money on the side to boost their savings. That number drops for their parents and grandparents, to 16% of Gen X and 18% of baby boomers, respectively.

Teacher works three jobs

"I get paid for 190 calendar days, but I work way beyond that," said Gloria Brown, a math teacher at Colleton County Middle School in Walterboro, South Carolina.

Brown said that although the academic year is coming to an end, her work is far from done.

"Most teachers spend time outside of the classroom coaching sports, grading papers, overseeing clubs, and the list goes on."

Colleton County Middle School math teacher Gloria Brown applauds during a rally with other educators and their supporters at the South Carolina State House on May 1, 2019 in Columbia, South Carolina.
Sean Rayford | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Brown's side gig will start this summer, when she takes on extra teaching work. The side gig will continue in the fall on top of her regular course load. She has turned down the opportunity in the past, but this year the added income is too enticing to decline.

"When you break down the pay rate, I will be making more hourly this summer than I do during the school year," said Brown.

Brown teaches in one of the lowest-paying districts In South Carolina, a state where recent teacher rallies and strikes have called attention to low teacher pay and minimal benefits.

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LGBTQ millennials struggle financially more than most
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South Carolina ranked 37th in teacher pay, with an average salary of about $50,000, according to data from the National Education Association.

Brown plans to take on a third job in the fall, working at a local McDonald's in the evening to support her son in college.

"The reason I haven't jumped ship is because I am from this community," said Brown.

"I left, joined the military, went to school, got my degree and now I feel like I'm playing a part to improve this community by pursuing my passion."

Hard to make ends meet

Christian Cimoroni works a side hustle to make ends meet.
Christian Cimoroni

"I barely live paycheck to paycheck," says millennial side hustler Christian Cimoroni.

Cimoroni works full time as a content designer for a local company in Columbus, Ohio, and illustrates on commission for additional income. He also works as a queer artist and performer, taking the stage at various local clubs as drag queen persona Barbie Roberts.

"I have bills, loans, Lyft fees, wigs and costumes to pay for," said Cimoroni.

"It's pretty much taking on whatever work I can to keep up with daily life expenses."

Barbie Roberts
Barbie Roberts

Following their passions

Despite the long hours for Brown and Cimoroni, both see side hustles as a way to pursue their passions.

"Honestly, I love connecting with other queer artists," said Cimoroni.

"I really am passionate about everything I do, whether it's personal work, commission work, drag or my day job," he said.

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