The Startling Number of “Lazy” Millennials Working Side Gigs Just to Get By

Making money on the side / Getty Images

Before I came to work this morning, I went to a coffee shop and wrote for an hour and a half.

Not because I needed to express myself, or because I had a coffee craving — though I enjoy both of those things — but because it’s how I earn extra money.

And among my fellow 30-year-olds, that makes me far from unique.  

In fact, 44% of workers aged 25-34 and 39% aged 18-24 also have side gigs, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey of 3,244 people.

Nearly half of millennials work on top of their full-time jobs? Seriously?!

Why So Many Millennials are Making Money on the Side

I want to believe 44% of my peers have side gigs because they love them.

But the numbers tell a different story.

Among all age groups, only 12% of workers earning more than $100,000 had side gigs, as compared to 34% making below $50,000. And the workers most likely to have them are in notoriously low-paying industries like leisure and hospitality, retail and transportation.

To further prove these side gigs aren’t passion projects: “71% of workers… do not want to turn their side gig into their day job and 76% don’t plan to own their own business in the future.”

Worst of all, 80% say they’re not in their dream jobs, and 44% don’t think they ever will be.

CareerBuilder suggests these side gigs are a good thing, saying they help you “be a better employee.” Although I agree side gigs can help you grow career-wise — I find these numbers completely disheartening.

I write on the side because I want to, not because I have to — but it seems like I’m one of the lucky few.  

If you’re working a second job because you’re struggling to make ends meet, here are a few ideas that might help:

1. Pursue Your Dream Job

To me, the saddest statistic is nearly half of the people surveyed don’t think they’ll ever be in their dream job. If you think that, you’re probably right — you’ll never be in your dream job if you don’t actively seek it out.

Take Action: Try this career quiz to see what you’re born to do, and then follow our TPH Jobs Facebook page to stay on top of all the latest openings. Maybe apply at one of these companies where you can work your way up to a six-figure job.

2. Get Paid What You’re Worth

Like your current company, but need a side job to stay afloat? Then you’ve got to ramp up your paycheck.

Take Action: Ask for a raise. The worst that can happen is they say no. But if you take the time to build these key career skills and use this salary negotiation strategy, hopefully you’ll knock it out of the park.

3. Make Moves

If you don’t have luck with either of those strategies, then it might be time to move somewhere cheaper. Cost of living varies wildly across the country — moving elsewhere might mean less struggling.

Take Action: Research cheaper alternatives to popular cities, and metro areas where your paycheck will go farther. If you work for a large company, ask your employer about the possibility of transferring.

If you work a side gig because you enjoy it, keep slaying.

But if you’re just trying to pay the bills, I hope these strategies help you earn more money — because if you’ve read this far, I’m confident you deserve it.

Your Turn: Do you work a side gig?

Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

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