White-Collar Workers Moonlighting: Financial Fear Hits All Tax Brackets

moonlighting"Moonlighting" used to be best known as an old 1980s TV show. However, in today's dismal economy, moonlighting has also become an essential means of economic survival for millions of workers.

The recession, lower wages, the potential for layoffs and much more have forced many in the work force to add a second or even a third job to their weekly schedule to make ends meet. Many of these multi-taskers are from the ranks of white-collar workers who once were, at least moderately, comfortable and secure in holding down one job and the salary that came with it.

Those days are now gone, and white-collar workers are finding they have to supplement their incomes with secondary, often blue-collar, part-time jobs to pay the ever-increasing bills and mortgage.

According to a survey for CareerBuilder.com, 9 percent of 4,500 mostly white-collar workers questioned have taken a second job to make ends meet. No data from the past is available for comparison. Another 19 percent said they intend to take another job in 2010.

Christine Durst, director of research for RatRaceRebellion.com, a work-at-home jobs-leads site, said, "We're starting to see more moonlighting by fear. Usually, we see moonlighting by choice."

Workers are taking on additional jobs and seven-day work weeks out of concern they might lose their primary job amid massive cutbacks and downsizing or simply because their reduced salaries don't stretch as far as before. Amid rising costs of living and child-rearing expenses, families are realizing one paycheck simply is not enough to survive anymore.

"I'm juggling several part-time jobs right now," said Albert Hendricks of Boston. "I had one full-time job, but my hours were cut to part-time status. Now, I work at a local supermarket three days a week after my regular job. I also have to keep scrambling to find additional work wherever I can. It doesn't leave much room for anything else and it gets pretty stressful too. The uncertainty is crazy."

Meanwhile, some others see moonlighting as a way to look for their next jobs in a marketplace where the possibility of layoffs and cutbacks is ever present. They see the second or third job as not only a source of much needed income, but also, as a back-up plan in an employment market that's extremely uncertain.

However, there are also drawbacks for those who moonlight out of necessity, especially if their main jobs are white-collar in nature. The demands of juggling two or more jobs can stretch the work week to exhausting lengths. The arrangement can also raise potential problems with the main employer, including possible conflicts of interest. Some moonlighters are worried about whether they should tell their primary employer about their secondary job, fearing their boss may be concerned about diminished focus and energy by the employee.

"I wish I could afford to just work a 9-to-5 job again," said Hendricks. "But things are different now. At least for now, those days are over."

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