Rising Cost of Living Forces Millennials to Work Two Jobs to Get By

Creative side hustles allow millennials to turn passion into extra income

Jun. 24th, 2024
Rising Cost of Living Forces Millennials to Work Two Jobs to Get By
  • Freelancing has significantly increased in popularity after the pandemic. The growth in the number of freelancers in the US is largely driven by a rise in individuals seeking freelance work as a side hustle.

  • The largest demographic of side hustlers in the US is millennials. Millennials have earned the reputation of "the side-hustle generation,” as many undertake additional jobs either to meet rising living costs or to pursue their passions and interests.

  • Among Millennials, writing, photography, and graphic design are the most common side hustles. These creative fields cater to side hustlers’ skill sets and interests, and meet growing demands in the market.

Freelancing has become an increasingly popular alternative to the traditional 9-to-5 job. Freelancers and contractors offer an easy way for companies to get work done without having to go through cumbersome hiring and financial approval processes, while providing freelancers with a flexible working arrangement that can fit different lifestyles. The constantly evolving landscape of freelance platforms and marketplaces have eased the access to freelance opportunities and as a result increased the number of freelancers. This week, in collaboration with Bloomberg, we look at the freelancing population in the US: How has freelancing evolved, and what are the demographics of the freelance workforce?

Revelio Labs’ HR data shows that there is a significant increase in freelance work interest amongst American workers. Since 2019, the number of freelance positions has witnessed a substantial increase, currently exceeding 2019 levels by 40%. Growth particularly accelerated following the peak of the pandemic, coinciding with the Great Resignation.


Interestingly, the majority of freelance jobs are done as side hustles, meaning that individuals have a concurrent position in addition to their freelance job. The prevalence of side hustle freelancers has grown by over 60% relative to the level in 2019.


A large share of those who are side hustling as freelancers are millennial workers. H&R Block’s Outlook on American Life Report shows that millennials are more likely than other generations to work multiple jobs. For many millennials, keeping pace with the rising cost of living necessitates additional income from a side job. However, other millennials leverage freelance work to pursue their passions and foster career fulfillment alongside some financial gain.


What do millennials do to generate additional income? Millennials leverage their diverse skill sets, which often include writing and editing for content creation, copywriting, or proofreading services. The creative side also thrives in the freelance world, with millennials offering photography, graphic design, and video production expertise. This diversified approach to work allows millennials to utilize their passions to generate financial benefits.


Despite historically low unemployment rates and robust job creation post-pandemic, millennials face a concerning decline in opportunity. This generation has wrestled with numerous challenges since entering the workforce following the Great Recession, primarily due to stagnant wages and widening inequality. The pandemic and subsequent inflation further exacerbated these issues, making it increasingly difficult for millennials to make ends meet, and leading many to resort to multiple jobs, including freelance work, to manage rising living costs and the burden of student debt. While headline economic indicators look rosy, they fail to reveal the nuanced reality for millennials.


Loujaina Abdelwahed

Senior Economist

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