Workers are picking up extra jobs just to pay for gas and food – The Washington Post

by | Jul 17, 2022 | Jobs

Listen7 minComment on this storyCommentGift ArticleAlbert Elliott has been fueling up his Kia Soul in increments of $15, $20 and $25 to make the 60-mile commute from Fayetteville, N.C., to an Amazon warehouse in Raleigh, where he makes $15.75 an hour. Lately, he doesn’t have enough cash to fill his tank the entire way.In June, gas prices had gotten so steep that Elliot took on a second job as a janitor at a community college, working an extra two days a week for $10 an hour.“Gas is just through the roof. Unless it’s payday, I put in all the money I have at the time, sometimes borrowing money from family and friends,” Elliott said. “I began to realize that what I was making at Amazon was not enough to pay for gas. My biggest concern is not being able to get to work to make any money. You have to pretty much rob Peter to pay Paul.”A tight labor market has pushed wages up across the board — but not enough to keep pace with inflation, which hit a 40-year high in June. That’s forcing workers like Elliott to seek second jobs and increase their hours to pay for their normal expenses. The percentage of employed people working multiple jobs in the United States has steadily increased since March 2020 from 4 percent in April 2020 to 4.8 percent in June 2022, according to data from the St. Louis Federal Reserve, although it has not returned to its pre-pandemic levels. In February 2020, 5.1 percent of workers in the United States held two or more jobs. While people taking on multiple jobs is typically a sign of a healthy job market where workers have more job opportunities available, it is also a sign of increasing financial strain on Americans’ pocketbooks.“There are people who want multiple jobs to make more money, and they find that opportunity when the labor market is stronger,” said Nick Bunker, director of economic research at Indeed’s Hiring Lab. “But I would say for many people, the urgency of finding more income or a second job or third job has intensified with inflation.”AdvertisementWorkers are increasingly taking on a second full-time job and clocking more than 70 hours a week to make ends meet. Although fewer people overall have multiple jobs now than before the pandemic, more workers now hold two full-time jobs, defined as more than 35 hours a week per job, than at any point since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began collecting this data in 1994: 426,000 Americans held two full-time jobs in June, compared to 308,000 in February 2020.“People most hurt by high inflation are also seeing a ton of job growth,” said Heidi Shierholz, president of the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank. “Given the burden of high inflation and high job availability, it’s not at all a surprise to me that you’d see people doubling up on jobs.”Wages grew faster last year than they had in decades with the biggest gains for low-wage workers in leisure and hospitality who had newfound leverage to negotiate higher pay, quit their jobs and unionize. Hourly average earnings were up 5.1 percent over the past year, according to government data from June. But for most workers, even in the lowest paid sectors where wages are rising fastest, inflation is now wiping out pay increases. Soaring prices meant overall wages fell by 3.6 percent when adjusted for inflation over the past year, the BLS data showed. The June jobs report showed cooling wage growth after months of strong gains, which is sometimes an indicator of an economy headed toward recession.Advertisement“There are still people who are getting raises faster than inflation, but they’re not nearly as many as a few months ago,” Bunker said. “People who said ‘my raises are outpacing inflation’ are now saying ‘I’m no longer getting those raises [because of inflation].’”The costs of essentials like gas, food and rent have especially skyrocketed as inflation rose, according to BLS reports. That ha …

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