side hustle coffee mug

Wakefield Research recently explored the concept of the “side hustle.” The research appears in a recent segment on KQED/NPR, but an excerpt from the original findings can be read below. Readers may also download the full report at the bottom of this page.

Exploring “side hustles” is worthy of exploration because it is bound to some of the most significant changes occurring in society today. It is associated with topics such as stagnating wages, the impact of new technologies, the increasing cost of living, and the changing nature of work itself.

In short, it’s a nifty window into some pretty big social issues.

This survey research examines Americans’ experience with, and opinions of, the side hustle. It takes a look at who is working a side hustle and why. It sheds some light on how we view “hustlers” and on how those hustlers view themselves.

The side hustle landscape is complicated. It turns out that the side hustle is an American tradition spanning generations. Yet this buzzword is often a short-hand for a new way of working, and for the struggles facing young workers that make a new way of working a necessity.

Who’s Hustling?

“Side hustle” might be a trendy buzzword, but like a lot of such phrases, it’s a new phrase for an old idea. The concept of the side hustle is largely used to mean having a side job or an alternative source of income in addition to a primary job.

Our research shows that everyone has hustled. Every living generation of Americans has had a “side job” or a “hustle” at one time or another: 61% of Americans have either had a side job, or currently have a side job. Side jobs are a part of the shared American experience. Women, men, Millennials, Gen Xers, Boomers, white, black, lower, middle and upper-income Americans have all hustled.

The Truth Behind the Side Hustle

Americans should be proud of their side hustles. It’s an American tradition viewed positively by every segment of society. Yet the truth is more complicated.

First, most side hustles are a secret. Americans working a side hustle don’t tell most of the people they know about their hustle. On average, they keep their side hustle a secret from 55% of their family, friends and coworkers. More than a quarter (26%) don’t tell anyone at all – not a soul – that they have a side hustle.

Millennials are even more reticent when it comes to disclosing their side hustle. On average, they tell just 37% of their social circle about their hustle, and 36% – more than a third – don’t tell a single person about their side job.

The research report provides additional insights and explores questions such as:

  • Who’s hustling?
  • Is hustling a new trend?
  • Is it possible to succeed in America without a side hustle?
  • Why are Americans hustling?
  • How is the side hustle portrayed in popular culture?
  • Do Americans view “hustlers” positively or negatively?
  • Why are Americans keeping their side hustles a secret?
  • Are side hustles more or less stressful than conventional work?
  • Are side hustles more satisfying than conventional work?

For the initial summary of the research findings and statistics on “side hustle”, download a pdf of the report.

For help with your market research and opinion survey needs, contact Wakefield Research today.