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With inflation and other economic maladies continuing to pound away at tens of millions of hard-working Americans, many are turning to tech-based side hustles to fight-back and thrive. The American spirit of innovation and resilience is alive and well.

The side hustle – part-time work for otherwise fully employed Americans who want to explore potential new work opportunities or just make more money – is enabling many to make ends meet. It is helping many to pay for Christmas. It may also be keeping at bay widespread economic panic and disruptive protests.

While inflation is up 7.1 percent in the past year, real hourly wages are down 1.9 percent. A plummeting stock market has driven this economic pain even higher.

December study by LendingTree found that 44 percent of Americans have a side hustle, up 13 percent from two years ago. Over 40 percent of “side hustlers” need the money for core expenses, and 71 percent are not certain they would be able to pay all their bills otherwise.

A major reason for the expansion of side hustles, and the economic prosperity and relief they provide, is America’s dynamic tech sector. This includes driving and delivery companies like Uber and DoorDash, as well as online retailers like Etsy and Amazon that provide vast opportunities to independent third-party sellers.

The opportunities and accompanying work flexibility are big. And the millions of Americans benefitting from such work include:

·                Stay at-home parents and corporate professionals looking to make some on money on a regular, part-time basis

·                The elderly and disabled who do not want to, or cannot, work full-time but want to find ways to be productive and earn a living

·                Those living in rural areas who do not want to move from their comfortable homes and beloved communities simply to make money.

Americans value choice along with the ability to innovate and adapt. Tech platforms fit well with these and other traditional values, and with the growing determination of many people to live and work better.

Side hustles are often the seed that leads to better jobs, and even economically transformed lives (i.e., people make a lot more and like what they do much more). Lending Tree reports that Americans earn an average of almost $5,700 a year from side hustles.

For those launching new companies, the ability to reach customers in the U.S. and worldwide is unprecedented. Today, there are nearly two million companies selling on Amazon, mostly small- and mid-size businesses. In fact, these third-party sellers now account for 60 percent of Amazon’s sales.

As tech companies remain in the bipartisan sights of some members of both parties as Congress reconvenes, it is important to keep their important role in mind. While there are free speech and security issues that need to be addressed, Congress must make sure it does no harm economically to the job-creating and income-supplementing tech industry.

Paul Steidler is a Senior Fellow with the Lexington Institute, a public policy think tank based in Arlington, Virginia. 


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