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How Much Time Do Americans Spend on Side Jobs?

August 22nd, 2020 by 
PK

We've looked at the most common side jobs in America as well as why Americans work side jobs. In this post we'll look at the time spent on side jobs by Americans.

American Adult Time Spent on Side Jobs

One of the more surprising numbers we've seen is that 30.7% of American adults earn some sort of side money. That made us wonder: how much time do they spend on these side pursuits?

For this question, the exact survey prompt was "How much time do you usually spend per month on occasional paid work activities or side jobs, other than your primary job?".

Conveniently, that sidesteps most of the subjectivity of what's a job and what's a hobby. Here's how much time Americans spend on side hustles:

Hours Spent on Side Pursuits by Americans
Hours Spent on Side Pursuits by Americans

An important note: 0 hours was a response to the prompt, only asked of side-job working respondents. Americans who weren't working side jobs also spent 0 hours on side jobs (presumably).

American Adults: Hours Per Month Spent on Side Jobs in 2017

Our data series comes from the 2017 Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking, a Federal Reserve Survey that asks about these topics - and a ton of other interesting stuff, to boot.

Here's the data in table form. We've also included the cumulative percentage of side workers working that number (or fewer) of hours on their side pursuits.

Hours Per MonthPercentage of Side WorkersPercentage of American AdultsNumber of AdultsCumulative Percentage of Side Workers
015.83%4.75%11,534,17515.83%
19.12%2.73%6,645,08224.95%
28.28%2.48%6,033,84933.24%
34.18%1.25%3,043,69437.41%
44.39%1.32%3,198,40841.80%
58.24%2.47%6,005,53650.05%
62.56%0.77%1,866,16852.61%
70.51%0.15%374,15853.12%
83.10%0.93%2,256,87056.22%
90.30%0.09%220,98256.52%
1010.25%3.07%7,470,95466.78%
110.04%0.01%30,37766.82%
122.89%0.87%2,107,69969.71%
130.05%0.02%38,34869.76%
140.14%0.04%102,42069.91%
152.62%0.78%1,905,98672.52%
161.20%0.36%876,94973.73%
170.01%0.00%3,64573.73%
180.37%0.11%272,96774.10%
207.42%2.22%5,405,72881.52%
210.02%0.01%13,09581.54%
220.21%0.06%155,53981.76%
230.02%0.01%17,81581.78%
240.94%0.28%687,38882.72%
251.18%0.35%856,89583.90%
280.24%0.07%171,92884.14%
290.05%0.01%33,97084.18%
303.09%0.92%2,247,58487.27%
320.42%0.13%305,59087.69%
330.05%0.01%35,64987.74%
350.55%0.16%399,56588.28%
360.26%0.08%190,67388.55%
380.21%0.06%150,22788.75%
390.14%0.04%100,01288.89%
403.42%1.03%2,494,02092.31%
420.08%0.02%56,71692.39%
450.29%0.09%208,97692.68%
480.19%0.06%137,15492.87%
501.14%0.34%829,79694.01%
520.03%0.01%20,62394.03%
550.18%0.05%128,69294.21%
560.05%0.02%36,49794.26%
600.96%0.29%701,53595.22%
640.04%0.01%31,03695.27%
650.19%0.06%139,27395.46%
700.37%0.11%267,97895.82%
720.16%0.05%115,07995.98%
750.19%0.06%141,52696.18%
760.02%0.01%15,92396.20%
800.89%0.27%649,83497.09%
810.04%0.01%26,05297.13%
840.01%0.00%5,97097.13%
850.02%0.00%11,57897.15%
900.29%0.09%210,30597.44%
960.09%0.03%63,30197.53%
1000.65%0.19%470,82998.17%
1010.01%0.00%7,37298.18%
1020.02%0.00%11,89098.20%
1050.08%0.02%58,65798.28%
1080.04%0.01%27,45398.32%
1200.29%0.09%208,16198.60%
1240.02%0.01%12,65198.62%
1250.04%0.01%25,72898.66%
1260.06%0.02%40,75598.71%
1290.03%0.01%25,13598.75%
1300.04%0.01%27,05898.78%
1320.01%0.00%7,85598.79%
1400.04%0.01%30,86298.84%
1500.13%0.04%95,35298.97%
1600.21%0.06%155,75499.18%
1760.05%0.01%34,17599.23%
1800.06%0.02%42,03899.29%
1920.03%0.01%20,47899.31%
2000.34%0.10%251,05799.66%
2050.04%0.01%28,19599.70%
2400.09%0.03%67,18299.79%
2500.03%0.01%21,09899.82%
3000.03%0.01%20,03799.85%
3200.03%0.01%23,13499.88%
4110.04%0.01%31,18499.92%
4250.01%0.00%6,19199.93%
6000.06%0.02%44,83599.99%
7200.01%0.00%6,999100.00%

 

The Pursuit of Side Jobs

There's definitely some interesting data to unpack here.

  • Roughly half of all American side workers dedicate 5 or fewer hours per month to side jobs.
  • 2/3 of side workers put 10 or fewer hours into side hustles.
  • Around 10% of all American adults spent more than 10 hours a month on side jobs.
  • ~11% of side workers (~3.5% of American adults) put in at least another full-time week at side pursuits a month, or 40 hours.

Some of the responses were, as you might expect... improbable.

Considering there are only 730 hours in an average month it's hard to swallow the idea of 720 hours of side-work. Maybe it makes sense if your side hustle is a real-life production of The Truman Show.

Other answers feel better.

150-200 hours may be an "unreasonable" number, but for a bootstrapping startup founder with a day job it makes sense. Around 0.35% of American adults spend 150 hours or more on side pursuits monthly.

Don't Quit Your Day Job...

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