A record number of Americans are working two jobs to keep up with their bills, and cope with higher prices for gas, groceries and housing as inflation ramps up the overall cost of living.
People working multiple jobs in the United States increased from 4 percent of the working population in April 2020 to 4.8 percent in June 2022, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve. Inflation hit a 40-year high in June in the US, driving up the prices of general goods.
More Americans than ever now have two jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which started keeping records in 1994. In June, 426,000 Americans worked a 70-hour week, according to the bureau, an increase on February 2020 when 308,000 worked that many hours per week.
Junior Phillips, 49, who lives in Brooklyn, New York, has a full-time job installing flooring in homes and businesses. However, he has also begun picking up part-time work cleaning carpets and laying floors for private customers in order to cope with rising bills and the costs associated with his three children.
"At my main job, I work about 30 hours a week." Phillips said. "The job takes me all around New York and sometimes to other states. I do a lot of lifting, stretching the carpet and stuff. My second job is along the same line of work.
"I use the extra money I make for my children. They need stuff all the time. I also treat my sisters to things. Transportation is cheap here, so that's not a problem. I use the money from my second job to buy groceries, but I try not to eat so much. The thing is the money I make on the side is not really 'extra money' because living in New York is really very expensive. I just about have enough to cope."
Truck driver Donn Boyce, 44, from Queens, New York, works about 60 hours a week for two different companies.
Boyce said: "I use all of the money I make to buy groceries and gas for my car, and I use it for my kids. I also save it. I work as a truck driver for my main company. I go all over. I started the second job for another trucking company about a year ago because things were tight. At the second job, I work 15 to 20 hours a week, it depends where they send me. The money I make is essential, I couldn't do without it."
Over the past year, many employees' average hourly earnings were up 5.1 percent, according to the bureau. But record inflation canceled out that increase, with wages falling by 3.6 percent when adjusted for inflation over the past year.
In June, gas prices hit a national average of $5 per gallon for the first time ever, causing further hardship. In the past three weeks, the price of regular-grade gasoline plummeted 45 cents to $4.10 per gallon, according to the Lundberg Survey.
Some workers who take on a second job don't tell their employer for fear of violating the company's rules.
Claire Deason, a Minneapolis employment attorney with Littler Mendelson PC, said that if a worker violates a noncompete agreement by working for another company the employer could sue.
John, 32, from New Jersey－who withheld his surname－believes he could get in trouble with his current employer if they found out he has a second job.
"My main job is as a COVID-19 tester. The company goes to different boroughs with a mobile testing site. In that job, I work 50 hours a week. My second job, I do part-time. I'm a phlebotomist. I draw blood from patients for a healthcare provider.
"I work about 16 hours in that job. I got the second job very recently because things are more expensive these days. I had to do something extra to make money. I've got a lot of bills. It's clear the supermarkets have raised the price of everything. I do 66 hours of work a week, and it's not hard and does not affect me too badly. I just feel tired a lot."
For many, the cost of groceries has skyrocketed, with the price of meat and fish rising 14.2 percent and eggs going up 32.2 percent from May 2021 to May 2022.
Francis Leo, 60, who is originally from St Lucia, but is now a US citizen and has lived in New York for more than 35 years, said the cost of living is higher today than he ever remembers.
He owns an apartment building and earns income from his tenants, but he also has a second job as a truck driver transporting perishable food for a large supermarket chain because he is saving for his retirement.
"From the time I came here from the Caribbean, I have been focused on investing," he said.
"So even though the gas prices are high, and the cost of food is high, I save all of the time, so it doesn't affect me as badly. I plan to retire at 64, so I'm very careful with what I spend. More people need to be like that."