‘I sell my blood’: Millions of people in the United States can’t make ends meet with two jobs

Millions of Americans are currently working two or more jobs in order to make ends meet, as global inflation and rising business prices have sent prices skyrocketing for food, gasoline, housing, health insurance and other necessities over the past year.

Cashe Lewis, 31, of Denver, Colorado, works two jobs and is currently trying to find a third job to cover the recent $200 monthly increase in rent for his apartment. She works days as a barista at Starbucks, but says it’s been difficult to get enough hours even taking extra shifts whenever she can due to schedule reductions as part of repression of trade union organization by the management.

At night, she works in a convenience store because the hours are regular and she works six days a week, often 16 hours a day.

“I’m exhausted all the time,” Lewis said. “On the day I have a week off, I donate plasma for extra money. I literally sell my blood to eat because I have no choice.

Her partner suffers from epilepsy and cannot work full time because of it. Even with insurance, their medications are expensive, and she spends about half of a two-week salary at Starbucks to cover health insurance premiums.

For the past five years, she has struggled with homelessness and was once fired from her job for sleeping in her car behind her workplace.

“All my friends and family also have multiple jobs, just trying to keep their heads above water. Nothing is affordable and the roadblocks put in place to keep people in the cycle of poverty benefit the poorest members. wealthiest in our society,” Lewis added. “We are not living, we are barely surviving and we have no choice but to continue to do so.”

According to US Census data, more Americans have held two or more jobs in recent decades, with women more likely than men to hold multiple jobs and low-income workers most likely to have multiple jobs. several jobs.

Laura Richwine of Omaha, Nebraska, works two jobs, one in fraud prevention and the other in administrative work, and had previously worked three jobs to cope with the heavy medical bills she has faced since she was hit by a car in 2014.

“It’s tough and I barely have the energy to cope with anything else,” Richwine said. “I have a bachelor’s degree and have worked for over 10 years, but until this year I had never had a job that paid more than $15 an hour. Many places around me still only offer Nebraska minimum wage, which is $9 an hour. You can barely buy food with that amount.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 400,000 Americans work two full-time jobs. In September 2022, 4.9% of all of the more than 164 million American workers held two or more jobs, or more than 7.7 million workers.

Although US Census data estimates these rates and numbers to be much higher, at 7.8% in the most recent year data is available, 2018, about 13 million workers, while BLS data at the time estimated that 5.0% of the workforce held multiple jobs.

Both data sets are considered an underestimate of the number of multi-job workers in the U.S. labor market due to restrictions on what is defined as a multi-job worker and a lack of self-employment data. like gig workers.

An annual survey sponsored by the Federal Reserve Board estimated an even higher number of multi-job workers, at 16.4% in 2019, or about 26.5 million workers.

Many of these workers who work multiple jobs do so to try to make ends meet and often work more than 40 hours a week.

Robert Weaver of Lawrence, Kansas currently works two jobs as a theater technician and delivery driver, working 30-35 hours a week at his main job and about 20 at his second job.

He explained that he worked two jobs because he couldn’t find a single full-time position in his area that matched his college degree. Most of his disposable income goes to paying credit cards, taxes, surprise bills like car repairs and medical bills.

“There’s not enough money to be able to afford a house or even rent a single job on your own,” Weaver said. “Everyone is in debt and it looks like we will never, ever pay it back.”

Liora Engel, 37, from Vermont, took two extra jobs, working at a delicatessen and another at a convenience store, earlier this year in addition to her full-time media job, to try to boost her income and to cover his expenses while going through a divorce.

After working 70 hours a week, she quit her full-time job due to burnout, but still works two jobs while trying to get a side business off the ground and limiting her working hours to 50 hours a week. at most.

“It’s kind of like, how much of your soul are you willing to sell to be financially independent or to make sure you can pay your bills?” said Engel.

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