Monday, January 12, 2009
No wonder we are all so exhausted
Tina Brown has an interesting article posted on The Daily Beast blog today called,"The Gig Economy". In her article she refers to a trend that is being overlooked by economists, which shows that more and more Americans are holding multiple jobs to make ends meet.
What I thought was interesting about this article was that this trend no longer affects just the 'working class', but now is fairly typical for even college-degreed professionals earning more than $75,000 a year. When I met my partner nearly 10 years ago he worked in the service industry and balanced three jobs to make ends meet. About 3+ years ago he started working at a Fortune 500 company in a highly specialized role. When he took the job, he thought that it would mean he would work Monday - Friday focusing on only his new job but he quickly realized that he needed to keep his consultancy business to make ends meet. I have friends who are very successful at recognizeable firms in Boston including, Fidelity Investments, PricewaterhouseCoopers, BlueCross BlueShield, etc.. who all have side jobs that augment their income. Some people do this because they like the diversity or enjoy the extra income the work generates, but Tina's story indicates that for many (and I know these people too) the extra jobs are a necessity due to a decline in real wages and or loss of employment.
This story has really made me stop to think about the implications and what this all means for the real health of our economy. It has also made me pause to wonder just how incomplete a picture our unemployment reports really are providing us. Recently it was reported that the U.S. unemployment rate jumped over 7% (a rate not seen since the first month of the first term of office for President Bill Clinton). What might the job reports indicate if they were to measure real income for all American families?
Once upon a time, there was such a thing as a single-income family. While there are still a few of those out there, nobody would argue that it is quickly becoming a thing of the past. However to have traded the need for a two-income family for a two-income multiple jobs family is a trend that has terrible implications for family and family life.