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Employment

The cost of living crisis is forcing people to work multiple jobs to make ends meet

New research found that a third of people already have or have considered finding additional income to deal with rising costs

Chronic high workload is pushing many NHS employees to reduce their hours or quit. Image: Flickr / Nenad Stojkovic

More than a third of UK workers already have, or are looking to secure additional income in the face of the cost of living crisis, new research suggests.

A survey by Avon found that two thirds of Brits (65 per cent) are worried about the impact of rising inflation, which is set to reach more than 7 per cent this year, energy bills and general living costs on their finances, higher than when the coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020.

Analysis from the Resolution Foundation last week, following the Spring Statement, suggested that couple households with two workers could see their real income drop by £392 by September 2022 thanks to inflation and stagnating wages. While many people have already been forced to cut down on spending, 31 per cent of men and 35 per cent of women also feel they need to secure an extra source of income in order to afford the rising costs.

Abbie Parcell, 24, privately rents a flat in Harrogate with her partner. Despite already working 38-hours a week as an Electro-muscle stimulation (EMS) trainer, Abbie says she is struggling to make ends meet. 

“I live in an expensive area because this is where I’ve grown up, and I’m struggling to not go into my overdraft every month,” she tells the Big Issue. “I live with my boyfriend and we are both working so hard to make ends meet. I even withdraw my weekly budget in cash each week to stop me overspending but there’s always something extra to pay that makes me go over.”

To combat this, and to prepare for April’s rising costs, Abbie is trying to get a part time job, bringing her total weekly hours to 58.

“I love my job and the hours are sociable but we don’t get paid for overtime,” so with the rising cost of living, I felt compelled to apply for other jobs,” she says. “I’m hoping it will take the pressure off,  but I hope it doesn’t put pressure on my relationship and mental health. Work-life balance is really important to me, as is having spare time to train in the gym to maintain my mental and physical health.”

Poor physical and mental health outcomes

Abbie’s concerns are not unfounded: a 2019 study of low-income mothers holding multiple jobs found that working multiple jobs is associated with a greater likelihood of experiencing depression and somewhat associated with greater life dissatisfaction and a 2018 study found that working two jobs was more likely to result in high levels of “work-family conflict.”

Louise Ward, 23, from St Helens, works 30 hours per week as a teaching assistant while studying part-time at university, with around eight hours of study time per week.

In order to afford her living costs while still having some disposable income and savings, Louise decided to take a second weekend job, meaning she now works an extra 6.5 hours per week.

Working more than full-time hours on top of studying, Louise said she has “definitely” noticed an impact on her mental health.

“I physically couldn’t do both if I wasn’t term time only,” she told the Big Issue. “It’s only having the holidays to catch up on university assignments and that makes it possible.”

Working multiple jobs can also have an impact on physical health and is associated with a higher risk of injury both inside and outside of work. A 2021 study on long working hours found that working more than 55 hours per week is associated with a 35 per cent higher risk of stroke and a 17 per cent higher risk of dying from heart disease, compared with a working week of 35 to 40 hours. Another study linked working long hours to increased likelihood of heart disease, diabetes, and fatigue, as well as depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation.

A real work-life balance is paramount for good mental and physical wellbeing, but the cost of living crisis will leave some people with little choice but to abandon theirs.

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