Side hustles are becoming young people's safety net amid so much economic uncertainty

In the present era, uncertainty reigns supreme. According to Citi's chief economist, Andrew Hollenhorst, a forthcoming recession is on the horizon, adding another layer of complexity to the already intriguing narrative of the US economy. Despite the low unemployment rate, there is a prevailing sense of despondency, potentially stemming from the lack of loyalty between employees and their employers. In these uncertain times, individuals are increasingly turning to side jobs for supplemental income, a trend particularly popular among the younger demographic. One notable example is a Gen Z individual who set an ambitious goal of making $100 a day for 100 days.

 Documenting her journey on TikTok, she managed to earn nearly $11,000 in addition to her regular job, which she used towards a house down payment. She shared her insights on entering the side hustle arena with Business Insider, discussing the importance of setting earning goals and selecting worthwhile opportunities. This trend is not isolated, as nearly 40% of Gen Zers are engaged in side hustles, a statistic that seemingly does not perturb employers provided that employees fulfill their primary work responsibilities. This shifting landscape underscores the increasing significance of side hustles, presenting new avenues for supplementary income.  

Graphic of a robot hand working at a computer.
klyaksun/Getty Images

So what’s pushing so many people to pick up extra jobs?

The economic uncertainty that’s loomed over us for the past few years plays a role. BI recently surveyed more than 600 Gen Zers and found that a good chunk (44%) describe themselves as financially insecure.

Artificial intelligence has also made it easier. People can quickly spin up additional revenue in fields they don’t have experience in. Here’s a rundown on how to use tools like ChatGPT to get started. 

But Gen Z also has a unique relationship with work. For as much energy as they put into eliciting change, they also view their job as… just a job. It's about a good salary and quick promotions, Eve Upton-Clark writes. 

And sometimes, a side hustle can turn into a hustle. Keida Dervishi tried running an Etsy shop when she was 17. But when the orders dried up, she pivoted her strategy. Business is now booming, with over $1 million in sales in less than a year.

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