A few months ago, a coworker of mine got married. A few months before that, she got engaged. On the morning she rolled in with one finger buckling under the weight of a god-knows-how-many-carat diamond, our six-person team huddled in a secluded office for a private, giddy, workday champagne toast.
Talking with my friends in similar positions to mine, it started to seem like having a job and a half at 25-ish was the norm, or at least a norm, rather than an anomaly. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in August 2014, about 6.8 million people held more than one job. A little over half of those, 3.6 million people, had a secondary part-time job in addition to a primary full-time job. Although multiple job-holders only make up just 4.7 percent of the employed population, that adds up to more than the populations of Los Angeles and Chicago put together. Even for those with non-essential side hustles, it’s a response to wage stagnation, if nothing else; more is more, so work if you can get it.
A few months after getting my first steady job since being unemployed, I still hadn’t let go of a lot of the habits and anxieties I’d developed during that time. I’d go up and down the grocery store aisle price-comparing boxed pasta, shaming myself for ever spending more than $20 at a time. I joked to friends that I was a recovering unemployed person, working my way through a twelve-step program.
Last year, I had seven different jobs in the span of nine months. With tax season on its way, I’ve amassed a small stack of W-2s, and my 2013 federal tax return is beginning to reveal a strangely foreshortened image of my first year in New York.