12 Recession-Proof Side Hustles to Help You Make Money

A woman sits in a park and pets all the dogs she's caring for.
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As the economy floundered in 2022 — with gas prices soaring, inflation spiking and interest rates on the rise — talk of a recession continued throughout the year.

Whether or not we were actually in a recession depends on who you talk to. And with that said, the conditions are still ripe for a possible recession moving into 2023.

After peaking in the summer, inflation has slowly dropped to 7.7% in the month of October. The average price of gas is pushing $4 per gallon, and a 30-year fixed mortgage rate is over 7% —  about 4 percentage points higher than this time last year.

If that’s not enough, the stock market fell into a bear market recently after gradually declining throughout the year.

Amid all this doom and gloom, what’s a worker to do?

Start a side hustle. Having another job on the side started long before the pandemic and hasn’t waned. Many people find that a second, part-time job provides extra financial stability, especially in an unstable economy.

12 Side Hustles to Get You Through a Recession

If a recession is on the way in 2023, a side hustle might be the buffer that helps get you through it. So what are your options?

1. Grocery Store

Restaurant business usually drops during a recession as more people cook at home to save money — and shop more at grocery stores.

People might have to trim their budgets a little, but the need for comfort foods and pantry essentials won’t go away.

So whether it’s stocking shelves, bagging groceries or providing customer service, there will almost always be a need for grocery store workers.

A grocery store shift can work well with a full-time job, too, since most stores have early morning, evening and night hours.

2. Grocery Store Delivery

Grocery delivery services have taken off since 2020, making life a little easier for consumers while providing more opportunities for side gig workers.

Third-party apps like InstaCart, Shipt and Boxed are extremely popular, as are grocery stores that have created their own delivery apps, such as Walmart and Kroger.

3. Bookkeepers

Death and taxes, right?

Recession or not, individuals and businesses have to pay taxes and track their finances.

While accountants work mostly full-time, bookkeepers might work either full- or part-time or even seasonally – making this a viable side hustle option.

Over the last several years, more bookkeepers have been offering their skills virtually as well.

4. Virtual Assistants

The need for virtual assistants isn’t going anywhere either. And during a recession, businesses are a little more picky when hiring support staff — making part-time, hourly virtual assistants an attractive option.

Not only that, companies save money when they use virtual assistants. Companies save 78% of their costs by hiring a virtual assistant instead of one that works on-site, according to one study.

5. Mobile Mechanic

The average new car price reached more than $48,000 in September 2022. That’s $6,000 more than last year, according to Kelly Blue Book. Used car prices are much higher as well.

This simply means car maintenance is incredibly important — and mechanic skills are even more valuable.

The convenience of a mobile mechanic is attractive to people who don’t want to spend hours waiting at a repair shop, juggling a drop off or having a car towed to a shop.

Other car-related businesses — such as mobile tire and windshield repair — should continue to grow as well. You could even start a mobile car detailing business as a side hustle, no special training required.

6. Handyman

Let’s face it. Stuff breaks, no matter what state the economy is in.

There’s a world of DIYers out there who love to fix things and take on new projects. Then there’s everyone else who just wants to call someone and let them do the fixing.

If you’re good at home maintenance or improvement, a part-time handyman job might not be a bad idea to earn some extra money, recession or not.

7. Senior Care Workers

Whether it’s in a care facility or at home, senior care providers look after the daily needs of aging citizens — everything from household chores to skilled nursing.

With 54 million seniors in the U.S. now, the senior care industry will only grow as the number of seniors is expected to nearly double in the next three decades, according to the federal Administration on Aging.

8. Child Care

The need for child care doesn’t dissipate during a recession.

Even if workers are laid off, they may still pay for child care so they can spend time looking for a new job or building a business and avoid losing the child’s spot.

And with more companies offering child care as a workplace benefit, the need for child care workers only continues to grow.

9. Staffing Agency

During a recession, when businesses are laying off more workers, they may turn to staffing agencies for temporary, less expensive replacements.

Side hustling with a staffing agency may be a decent place to find yourself during a recession.

10. Pet Care

More than 90 million Americans own a pet. That’s about 70% of households — a number that has been growing gradually over the last ten years, according to an American Pet Products Association report.

The pet care industry is pretty doggone recession proof, even growing during the last two recessions: 29% in 2001 and 17% in 2008-2009, according to a Mauldin Economics analyst.

All that to say, America loves its pets. And recession or not, essential grooming, dog walking and pet sitting still happens. You can even rent out your yard as a dog park if you like.

11. Alcohol-Related Jobs

While restaurant jobs — including bartending — have declined in past recessions, Americans still find ways to enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail.

That makes any job that involves alcohol — whether it’s a liquor store clerk, wine store stocker or delivery driver — a much-needed position during a recession.

12. Tutoring

While teaching jobs are always available during a down economy, they’re too demanding to work as a side hustle.

However, if you have the qualifications, you can still find plenty of jobs as a substitute teacher — or even a tutor. You don’t even have to teach in person, if you find a tutoring position through one of these companies.

Robert Bruce is a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder.