San Francisco Bay Area workers take second jobs to get by
Marissa Federspiel has a full-time day job at a hardware store. The 31-year-old also has a night job as a paid caregiver for her elderly uncle, who lives with her. When she tries to get some sleep, she often is awakened by her 16-month-old. Now she’s thinking about taking on a third gig.
“Most days I’m a walking zombie,” says Federspiel, who lives in Albany. “I still have some sanity left but I often feel stretched thin. Working so much can put a huge strain on your mental health. Coffee helps and so does inner strength.”
Working 80 hours a week is the norm for her. That’s what it can take to get by in the Bay Area, where housing prices and rents are among the highest in the nation. Many people have to work multiple jobs to get by. Some work six days a week, holding down three separate paid positions. Others cobble together various side hustles to make ends meet.
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that just 5% of workers nationwide hold two or more jobs, but that doesn’t track people who are paid in cash. That’s why some experts peg the number of workers with more than one job much higher. In its recent Side Hustle survey, Bankrate reported that 38% of those surveyed hold down a side job, and one-third of these folks say they need the dough to make ends meet.
“Back in the day, if you had one full-time job, the expectation would be that you could make it. Nowadays, for many people, it takes multiple jobs,” says Amanda Dixon, an analyst at Bankrate. “It’s a little disturbing to see how many people need that money to survive.”
While many associate the Bay Area with its well-heeled high-tech work force, keeping your head above water is no mean feat for other folks who must cope with the high cost of living on lower salaries.
“The Bay Area is one of the most expensive places on the planet,” says Chris Thornberg, founding partner of Beacon Economics, a Los Angeles-based economics consulting firm. “It’s also got some of the highest incomes on the planet.”
If you are not among these top earners, however, the economic pressures are mounting. Renters must make about $127,000 a year to afford a modest, two-bedroom home in San Mateo, San Francisco and Marin counties, according to a National Low Income Housing Coalition’s report on the nation’s most expensive counties.
“Housing is the biggest factor driving the cost of living in the Bay Area because it is so expensive,” says Patrick Kallerman, research director at the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, “The gig economy is growing. People need the money.”
Tinamari Bekkali works about 25 hours a week in a marketing job and another 8 hours as a social media manager and web designer. The 30-year-old jams both gigs into her life as a stay-at-home mom with three kids, 13-month-old Sharif and twins Marvel and Eloise, eight. She often makes work calls while taking the baby for a walk.
“Honestly, I work on and off all day long. I get the most work done at nap time, bed time and weekend mornings when my husband is home to take over kid duty,” says Bekkali, who lives in Walnut Creek. “It’s super common for me to work on my phone during a play date, at the park, even while grocery shopping. Some days are absolutely insane.”