By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
Tyler Wilde has side hustling down to a science.
“At one time I’ve taught swim lessons, worked in landscaping and waited tables,” the Cody native said. “I’ve also been a warehouse worker, a bank teller and a waiter. And another time I was working in a coffee shop, guiding trolley tours, was a crew member for a dinner theater and did tech for another show.”
Andrew Rossi has been there as well.
“When I started living in Cody I was working five jobs, totally by choice,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “And that’s not something I’d do again.”
By the Numbers
Wilde and Rossi aren’t alone. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 6% of the workforce in Wyoming – more than 7,000 people – are holding down more than one job.
But those numbers only include people who have two or more wage and salary jobs, or are self-employed and also a wage and salary job. People who are self-employed with multiple businesses aren’t included in those statistics.
Cost of Living
Rossi, who works full time as news director at Big Horn Radio Network in Cody, points out that even workers who hold down a 40-hour-a-week job often find themselves coming up short at the end of the month.
“With the way things are going with inflation, trying to find someplace to live with rent as high as it is, I often have to ask myself, ‘Can I afford to have this job?’” Rossi said. “It becomes a question of survival and whether you can survive with the position you have.”
And even people who work jobs that most people would consider well-paying are turning to part-time gigs to supplement their income.
Ethan Bruce, manager at one of the three Domino’s Pizza outlets in Cheyenne, said some of the outlet’s part-time drivers have full-time jobs in construction and in the oil fields.
“Cheyenne’s rental rates are going up, and same with the bills and electricity,” Bruce told Cowboy State Daily.
But many of those part-time drivers are quitting, Bruce said, because the pay just isn’t enough to make the job worth it.
“Our minimum wage is still $7.25 an hour (plus tips),” he said. “And that’s not paying enough.”
Pursuing Their Passions
Wilde told Cowboy State Daily he does an employment juggling act so he has time to pursue his passions. He said some of the jobs he’s held that pay a pittance have been worth it simply for the joy of the activity.
“It’s being in that ‘paying your dues’ stage where you aren’t able to cover the bills from just that one thing,” he said.
Rossi said he also chooses side jobs that fit his interests.
“I think a side gig should be about pursuing something that you’re passionate about or interested in, or just something to have fun and be making something,” he said. “It shouldn’t be a case of, ‘I’m relying on this to make sure that I can afford my rent and get food and everything else.’”
Taking Its Toll
Wilde pointed out that juggling different work schedules to fit everything in doesn’t leave a lot of time or energy for any sort of social life.
“And it can often limit, or even take away, any free time you may have had to be able to spend the extra money you’re making,” he said.
And those long hours can lead to burnout.
“You’re so stressed things start slipping, and you’re not able to perform any of the jobs at the level you’d like to,” said Wilde.
Rossi added that he is alarmed at the number of people who undertake this balancing act, especially those in their 20s and 30s.
“I think the thing that concerns me the most is that society’s normalizing it,” said Rossi. “Like, this is just what it is to live in the 21st century, especially for my generation, and who knows for the generations after me.”
While Wilde is off the merry-go-round for now having found full-time employment as a manager for a local performance venue, he said a quote from the television series “Parks and Rec” fairly accurately reflects his feelings on working multiple jobs.
“There’s a Ron Swanson quote, ‘Never half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing,’” said Wilde. “That pretty much sums it up.”