Tough Economy Forcing Many into Side-Jobs

Economic volatility is forcing workers into the gig economy, but are unemployment numbers the whole story? 

PRAY FIRST for guidance in navigating these complexities, both individually and collectively, seeking clarity in decision-making and insight into sustainable solutions during these economic uncertainties.

“Casting all your anxieties on Him, because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7

The narratives on the Internet about employment vary widely, but one thing is clear: rising costs are outpacing wages, driving many people to seek additional income as a means to make ends meet. This is usually referred to as “gig” income and can come from a hobby that makes money, contract or freelance work, or a part-time job in addition to full-time employment. Some companies are beginning to take advantage of this by not even offering full-time positions at all. This creates underemployment, where individuals work fewer hours than they need or in positions that seem to underutilize their skill. This forces many Americans into working multiple parttime “gig” jobs due to the lack of full-time opportunities. While unemployment numbers look lower than average, workers are facing numerous financial and mental health challenges.  

The Pressure on Americans

While gig work often offers flexibility, it comes with significant downsides. Gig workers face unstable income, lack of benefits, and minimal job security, which leads to increased stress and anxiety. The unpredictable nature of gig employment can exacerbate mental health issues, as workers struggle to meet basic needs while maintaining stability.

Rising living costs further complicate the lives of the underemployed and gig workers. Expenses such as rent, food, childcare, healthcare, and retirement savings are substantial burdens. High rents can consume a significant portion of income, which leaves little for other essentials. Soaring childcare costs force some parents to choose between working and staying home. Healthcare remains a major expense with high premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Also, saving for retirement is nearly impossible for those barely making ends meet.

When trying to plan for the future, many Americans are simply unable to even consider it. Financial advisors recommend saving at least 15% of one’s income for retirement. For a minimum wage worker, this is often unrealistic. Without significant changes to wages and living costs, many minimum wage workers will continue to struggle to save adequately for retirement.

Federal Action and Options

While there is an ongoing debate among economists, some indicators suggest we might be nearing a recession. Economic growth has slowed, inflation remains high, and interest rates continue to rise. These rising rates, intended to curb inflation, are often stifling economic activity. The job market—though resilient in some areas—has weak spots, especially for those who find themselves in precarious employment situations.

Several bills attempt to protect American workers, including the Raise the Wage Act, which proposes increasing the federal minimum wage. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has provided healthcare access to millions, though it remains contentious and under constant political threat. However, these measures often fall short in providing comprehensive protection. Since the gig economy largely operates outside of traditional employment protections, this leaves workers vulnerable.

The Federal Reserve raises interest rates to combat inflation, but this strategy can backfire. Higher interest rates increase borrowing costs—slowing economic growth and increasing unemployment. The balance is delicate; excessive hikes can push the economy into a recession, which exacerbates the issues faced by underemployed and gig workers.

To genuinely support workers, comprehensive policies are needed. These could include expanding healthcare coverage, subsidizing childcare, providing housing assistance, and ensuring fair wages. Legislation like the PRO Act aims to strengthen workers’ rights to unionize, which could possibly provide better protections for gig and underemployed workers. Additionally, tax reforms that benefit low and middle-income families, rather than primarily the wealthy, could also potentially alleviate some financial pressures.

 Christian Perspective on Work and Financial Balance  

How should we as Christians realistically approach such difficulties? First, we always have to start with prayer. Navigating the complexities of work, family, and financial balance involves seeking wisdom and relying on faith. The Bible stresses the importance of providing for one’s family (1 Timothy 5:8) and managing resources wisely (Proverbs 21:5). We are called to support one another, including advocating for fair and just economic policies. It’s especially true when considering that we are in the midst of an election year. For God is raising up the next set of federal officials and state and local leaders. We must be diligent in seeking His wisdom as to how we must vote in 2024. Those in our government have a critical role to play in policies that shape our economy.   

Prayer is central and should remain central in our response. We should diligently pray for wisdom for government leaders, for policies that promote justice and equity, and for the protection of vulnerable populations (1 Timothy 2:1-2). We are also encouraged to pray for personal guidance in managing our finances and seeking balance in our lives (James 1:5). Through prayer and practical support, we can create a better future and navigate the economic challenges of today.


— Pray for Americans who are seeking answers to meet their financial needs and looking for ways to supplement their income. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. – James 1:5
— Pray the leaders in the federal government as they look for ways to ease economic pressures on American citizens. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. – Colossians 3:23


  • Pray that God will sustain us through difficult times and grant us resilience in the face of any financial stress or uncertainty.
  • Pray for our current and future leaders who can drive systemic change and advocate for equitable policies.
  • Pray for our nation, whether it veers into a recession or economic growth picks up, the citizens can find peace and opportunity to care for themselves and theirs and find support as necessary.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor, Economic Policy Institute, American Psychological, Federal Reserve, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Child Care Aware of America, Center of Medicare & Medicaid Services, Internal Revenue Service


Back to top