Three new reports show what many American workers, including myself, know firsthand: side hustles are increasingly how many Americans can afford to maintain their standard of living.

PYMNTS and LendingClub found that as of this February, 62% of all U.S. adults were living paycheck to paycheck, up from 60% a month earlier but stable year over year. The percentage of consumers living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to pay their bills has decreased over the past two years. Paycheck-to-paycheck consumers have adapted to rising inflation by adjusting their financial way of life. Most often, this has come through taking on additional income sources. 

Almost one-quarter of consumers have a side job, and 17% have other types of supplemental income. Most of this income is new—under two years—and most is earned by paycheck-to-paycheck consumers. Side hustles may be the solution to living paycheck to paycheck. 22% of those living from one paycheck to another but not struggling to pay monthly bills say that without their additional income sources, their financial grounding would deteriorate. 

Overall, the report clearly demonstrates that taking on additional income beyond one’s paycheck “greatly impacts financial stability.” 

A survey by LendingTree found similar findings. 44% of Americans—many who are from Gen Z—have a side hustle, up 13% from just three years ago. For many Americans, this additional income helps them pay for primary expenses or bills. 71% said they are not certain they would be able to pay all their bills without their side gig. 43% of Americans with side hustles say inflation was the stimulus for starting an additional job.   

Another survey by FlexJobs confirms the prevalence of side jobs. It found that 69% of currently employed professionals either have a side gig or want one. 

With rising inflation, it seems likely that workers will continue to earn additional income to help cover monthly bills and provide flexible spending. These reports show why lawmakers must protect those who work side hustles and independent contracting jobs, which bring additional income that is essential for many to pay their bills. Efforts, such as the Protecting the Right to Organize Act or “PRO Act,” that would stifle the flexibility that side gigs offer and reclassify many independent contractors, must be rejected.  As someone with a side gig herself, I am grateful for the freedom it brings and hope others can continue to experience the same.