Moonlighting becomes an American way of life

More US workers are holding down second jobs as it gets ever tougher for families to make ends meet.

By Aimee Picchi Mar 11, 2013 11:54AM

Image: Credit card purchase (© Marc Romanelli/Photodisc/Getty Images)If you're thinking of taking on a second job to keep afloat, you're not alone. 

With Americans hit by higher taxes and a still-sluggish economy, more are turning to moonlighting to pay the bills. According to a Labor Department report, about 340,000 people took on second jobs in February, representing the biggest monthly gain in almost 16 years. 

That means almost 7.26 million people relied on two paychecks last month, compared with 6.92 million in January, the New York Post reports, citing data from the Labor Department.

The bump came shortly after a hike in the payroll tax, which left a lot of workers taking home smaller paychecks. According to an estimate from the Tax Policy Center, the tax hike means the average American household has about $20 less each week to spend. 

A rise in second jobs appears to be seasonal, reported every February going back to 1994 when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics started collecting the data, bureau economist James Borbely told the Post. But last month saw an unusually high jump.

So, who's hiring people for second jobs? Let's just say many of those workers are telling customers, "Welcome to McDonald's (MCD)!" The most popular sidelines include food service, retail, bookkeeping and personal care workers such as dog walkers, the Post notes. 

Other issues boosting moonlighting include the need to pay off holiday purchases, with credit-card bills coming due in February for December gift-buying. 

Aside from the increase in moonlighting, more Americans are also relying on part-time jobs in what The New York Times calls an "unsettling" trend. That's because it appears many full-time jobs are being replaced by part-time positions, or those that require fewer than 35 hours a week. 

Part-time positions have surged by 2.8 million since December 2007, when the recession officially began, but 5.8 million fewer Americans are working full time. 

"This would not be so troubling if people were electing to work fewer hours. But that is not the case," The Times notes. Many workers are having trouble finding full-time jobs amid a still-recovering economy. 

So, when you place an order at Starbucks (SBUX) or visit Wal-Mart (WMT), just remember: Your cashier just might be one of the new American workforce, holding down two jobs to help make ends meet. 

More on moneyNOW

Mar 11, 2013 12:53PM
V_L and others:  I have been moonlighting for 5 years now due to stagnate pay-I have managed to pay off my car and my student loan.  Moonlighting is tiring, but can be an awesome way to eliminate debt!
Mar 11, 2013 1:12PM

Yep the more wages drop or stay the same the more you will see this. It's not like people are getting another job for the fun of it. They are doing out of necessity.

Mar 11, 2013 2:34PM
Sad state of affairs.....half of America is having to work two or more jobs to pay the higher cost of living and taxes from the other half living on welfare and refusing to work at all......
Mar 11, 2013 1:54PM
I've been moonlighting for over five years too. It is definitely out of necessity. I'm kind of used to it now.
Mar 11, 2013 3:07PM
So sad. I tried once, 14 years ago and lasted 2 weeks. I feel very priviledged and thankful my free time is spend by relaxing, yoga, personal education, and preparing healthy foods. I will downsize to minimum if need be to keep my personal time and am managing finances as smart as I can as this experience 14 years ago will stay with me forever.
Mar 11, 2013 12:30PM
In the last Great Depression, they called those people Working Stiffs. Moonlighting only wears you down and out, the net pay is rarely worth the post-period exhaustion.
Mar 11, 2013 11:09PM
It doesn't mention the year over year or the seasonality in the report but since bookkeeping is mentioned will the numbers drop after 4/15?
Mar 12, 2013 12:22AM
What hike in payroll tax....There was NO HIKE...
Mar 11, 2013 4:10PM

To show good numbers of employment.GOP and DEMO are using parttime job as employment

data,this started with  GOP president Ron. Reagan. This is nothing but misguiding  pure, ignorant

American people.Now at present most department store are giving 32 hours.Those are making

millions. No wonder stockmarket is doing a shame ecomic's experts are

proclaiming  progress in economics growth.

Mar 11, 2013 1:58PM
i have had but one raise in the past ten years so i have been working three jobs for the past 3 years. this is no fun at all but as long as the republicans keep saying no new taxes i will never get a raise. i am a government worker you know the one's that make all that money. want to try to be a government worker i think not you all want people to do a good job but do not want to pay why?
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

Trending NOW

What’s this?


[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market began the new trading week on the defensive note with small-cap stocks pacing the retreat. The Russell 2000 (-1.4%) and Nasdaq Composite (-1.1%) displayed relative weakness, while the S&P 500 lost 0.8% with all ten sectors ending in the red.

Global equities began showing some cracks overnight after China's Finance Minister Lou Jiwei poured cold water on hopes for new stimulus measures. Specifically, Mr. Lou said the government has no plans to change ... More