Economic hardship forces 100,000 into second jobs

Almost 100,000 people have had to take second jobs in the past year to make ends meet, according to research by The Independent.

The numbers recorded as having second jobs rose to 1.1 million for the first quarter of this year – up 9 per cent, or 94,000, in 12 months. It is the highest total since 2002.

Much of the rise has come since the turn of the year as tax rises, inflation and minimal pay settlements have hit household budgets. Recent research suggests the squeeze is the worst for 40 years and Bank of England governor Mervyn King has warned of the toughest pressure on living standards since the 1920s. Since the start of the year, a period in which the economy has flatlined, the numbers taking on extra work has risen by 53,000. The hours worked in second jobs are also up, to an average of just under 10 a week.

Although the second jobs trend predates the recession, there has been a sharp spike in the past year, which seems closely correlated to the rise in inflation and pressure on living standards that began in 2007-08. Howard Archer, chief economist at IHS Global Insight, said: "The most likely cause behind this rise in second jobs is that there are many people struggling to get by given the squeeze on their finances coming from falls in real-term incomes resulting from muted pay and high inflation.

"It is also likely that several companies are happy to take on people working relatively short hours to help meet their business needs, rather than having to take someone on full-time or even in a major part-time job. Typically, people with second jobs work just under 10 hours, which is less than many part-time workers do."

There has also been a record rise in the number of people in part-time or temporary jobs because they cannot find full-time employment – more than one million workers. For those in work, a second job seems to have been one response to the spiralling cost of living. UK part-time and full-time employees may face one of Europe's longest working weeks.