Americans Are Choosing To Be ‘Over-Employed’ Instead of Working Back-to-Back Jobs

Architect going for a combo usage of laptops.
m-gucci / Getty Images/iStockphoto

As inflation increases the costs of everything from food to shelter, more workers need to take on multiple jobs or side gigs to make ends meet. But instead of working multiple retail or food service jobs with varying hours, or taking on a variety of freelance gigs with no specific time commitment, some savvy workers are using a tactic called “over-employment” to meet their financial needs and goals.

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What Is Overemployment?

The pandemic and remote work trend sparked the over-employment trend. Remote work opened the door for employees who work from home to take on two (or more) jobs during regular working hours. These full-time employees work just 40 hours per week while, essentially, collecting two full-time paychecks from two different employers.

Statistics on Overemployment

In August 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 7.5 million workers, or nearly 5% of the labor force, are working more than one job.

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It’s more difficult to find statistics on those who are working more than one job during simultaneous hours, because over-employed workers are, for obvious reasons, secretive about their arrangements. An employer could, of course, fire someone for working a second job on company time, regardless of their job performance.

But, the TikTok tag #overemployed has more than 4.3 million views, according to Wired, and the Reddit community r/overemployed has 99.3k members and is in the top 1% of all communities by size.

Tools to Juggle Two Jobs

A host of tools are available to switch between remote jobs as easily as one might switch between tasks for a single company. Logitec, for instance, makes a mouse that lets you switch between three devices with a click and a tilt wheel for horizontal scrolling.

In addition, there is a device called a mouse jiggler that makes it look like you’re working even if you aren’t. This can help workers whose employees use monitoring software. However, one of the keys to successful overemployment is to find a company with managers who are more or less hands-off, don’t call lots of meetings, and only care that your work is completed.

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Or, as Redditor Throway wrote, “My J2 requires so little from me that I got away with taking 2 days off and just leaving my mouse jiggler on.”

How Overemployed People Squeeze 80 Hours of Work into 40 Hours

In order to meet the requirements of the jobs, many workers will look for lower-level positions with fewer responsibilities. In this sense, over-employment does not describe driven go-getters looking to climb the corporate ladder, but people who are seeking freedom from the corporate grind.

By giving less of themselves — but still meeting performance requirements — over-employed people can maintain a work-life balance.

And, with two full-time paychecks, two 401Ks and overlapping medical benefits, they are able to save more money and achieve their financial goals, which could be anything from buying a home to retiring early.

Pitfalls of Overemployment

Of course, the danger of overemployment is that, with extra cash plus free time, you could start to live beyond your means. If you can live on one paycheck, consider putting your second paycheck into an investment account automatically, before you’re tempted to spend it.

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Some people ask if over-employment is ethical. Yet, as Sarah Murphy told Wired, “My mom worked two jobs all the time growing up, but we don’t really think of that as weird because it’s a working-class situation,” she says. “But if you’re a knowledge worker and you’re working multiple jobs, there’s a sentiment that it’s unethical. It’s not, if you’re getting your work done.”

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About the Author

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who geeks out about finance, e-commerce, technology, and real estate. Her lengthy list of publishing credits include Bankrate, Lending Tree, and Chase Bank. She is the founder and owner of GeekTravelGuide.net, a travel, technology, and entertainment website. She lives on Long Island, New York, with a veritable menagerie that includes 2 cats, a rambunctious kitten, and three lizards of varying sizes and personalities – plus her two kids and husband. Find her on Twitter, @DawnAllcot.
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