29/05/2024

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20 Surprising Side Hustle Statistics (2024): Income, Gigs, Goals

20 Surprising Side Hustle Statistics (2024): Income, Gigs, Goals

Ready to dive into some side hustle statistics?

Side hustles are more popular than ever, and there are two driving factors behind the trend:

  1. Proactive desire and unprecedented ability to make extra money — fueled by technology and social media
  2. Economic necessity

In this post, I’ll dive into the latest side hustle statistics and share insights from the latest Side Hustle Nation member survey.

1. How Many People Have a Side Hustle?

39% of working Americans report having a side hustle1. That amounts to as many as 80 million people.

Among millennials, that statistic rises to 50%2.

  Overall Population Baby Boomers Gen X Millennials Gen Z
United States 39% 24% 40% 50% 46%
United Kingdom 19%     42% 39%
Canada 28%13       35%

And the trend continues to grow:

  • An additional 35 million (roughly 17% of the working-age population) plan to start to a business14.
  • 70% of Gen Z reported looking for a side hustle10.
  • 64% of Gen Z plans to “monetize a project on social media” in the next year12.
  • 40% started in the last year15.

It’s not just a millennial thing either; 24% of baby boomers (age 59-77) indicated they have a side hustle1.

In the UK, 42% of Gen Z and 39% of millennials report having a side hustle9.

And when the definition of a side hustle is expanded to include answering surveys and selling items on sites like eBay, the numbers are even wilder. With those guidelines, as many as 93% of us have an extra income stream11.

Even celebrities are getting in on the action, recognizing the value in diversifying income streams.

2. Why Are So Many People Side Hustling?

Making extra money is the most commonly-cited goal for starting a side hustle.

According to a 2023 Pinger survey14, 80% of side hustle business owners did it to increase their income. But “increasing income” is just a surface-level goal.

Why people want the extra income is more surprising. The same survey found that 40% wanted to learn a new skill, and 30% wanted to eventually be their own boss.

According to Bankrate, 41% of side hustlers need the extra money to make ends meet. Another 43% plan to use the money primarily for savings or additional disposable income1.

reasons for side hustling statistics

(Source)

In 2022, 29% said inflation was a factor in starting their side hustle11.

When I asked Side Hustle Nation what their primary motivation was for starting a side hustle, I found personal freedom at the top of the list:

why start a side hustle statistics

Why side hustle? Here’s what people are hoping to achieve:

  • 31.2% – More personal freedom
  • 28.3% – Extra income to save, spend, or invest
  • 21.6% – Extra money to make ends meet
  • 6.7% – Pay off debt faster
  • 4.6% – A creative outlet
  • 3.8%  – “It felt like a calling”

3. Do People Need a Side Hustle to Make Ends Meet?

The most striking shift over the last few years is the spike in the percentage of side hustlers who cited making extra money “to make ends meet” as their primary motivation.

That spiked from 11.8% in 2021 to 21.6% in 2024.

more side hustlers struggling to make ends meet

Still, if we look at the inverse, 78.4% of side hustlers aren’t struggling to make ends meet and are pursuing a side hustle for other reasons. (See above.)

4. What Do Side Hustlers Want?

I polled over 5500 Side Hustle Nation visitors and found that only 20% were looking to build a side hustle to quit their jobs.

The remaining 80% were simply looking to make extra money.

what do side hustlers want

5. How Much Do People Make From Their Side Hustles?

The average side hustle brings in $1,122 a month, but the median income is much lower — just $200 a month5.

That means that many side hustlers are at the lower end of that earning spectrum, and the data from Side Hustle Nation subscribers seems to support that as well.

In our recent survey, half of all respondents reported making less than $100 per month:

average side hustle earnings

Still, you gotta start somewhere!

Once your side hustle or business has a little more traction, the numbers are more encouraging. Of the respondents making over $100 a month:

  • 44% make $101-$500 per month
  • 21% make $501-1000 per month
  • 25% make $1001-5000 per month
  • 5% make $5-10k per month
  • 5% reported earning over $10k a month from their business

If we combine some of these income brackets, you can say that after someone’s side hustle gets over the initial startup phase, 35% of side hustlers earn $1,000 or more per month.

6. How Much Time Do Side Hustles Take?

The average side hustler spends 11-16 hours a week on their business6.

Combined with the average earnings, that works out to an average of $16-23 an hour.

In a survey of over 2300 Side Hustle Nation subscribers, here’s how much time they reported spending on their side hustle(s):

  • 53.8% spend less than 5 hours per week
  • 23.8% spend 5 to 10 hours per week
  • 13.3% spend 11 to 20 hours per week
  • 7.2% spend 21 to 40 hours per week
  • 1.9% spend more than 40 hours per week

37.1% of Side Hustle Nation subscribers reported working 5-20 hours a week on their business, which I’d put squarely in the “part-time” category.

how much time do people spend on their side hustles

Even if the long-term goal is to build a time-leveraged business, there’s an element of needing to put in the time to make it work.

Important: Of the people who reported earning less than $100 a month from their side hustle, 75% said they spent 0-5 hours a week on it.

Of the people making $500 or more every month, 85% are spending at least 5 hours a week to earn it.

And for established businesses, the effective hourly rates can become quite lucrative.

In the $5000+ income category, 39% of people reported spending 20 hours a week or less. That works out to around $60-500 an hour.

7. What Are the Most Popular Side Hustles?

Based on over 2,300 survey responses from Side Hustle Nation, the most popular side hustles are:

  • Online Business — including blogging, podcasting, online courses, social media, YouTube, newsletters, and affiliate marketing.
  • E-Commerce — including Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and your own online store.
  • Freelancing and Consulting
  • Investing — including real estate, crypto, stocks, buying businesses, and alternatives.
  • *”Quick Cash” Side Hustles — including focus groups, online surveys, credit card rewards, cash back apps, etc.
  • Local Services — including cleaning, knife sharpening, notary services, pet waste removal, and more.
  • Self-Publishing
  • Gig Economy jobs, like Instacart or Lyft.
  • Software and Apps

the most popular side hustles

8. What Side Hustles are People Most Interested in Starting?

Based on Google search volume estimated by ahrefs, here are the top 25 businesses people are most interested in starting.

9. What Are the Highest Paying Side Hustles?

Which side hustles have the best earning potential?

Among side hustlers earning over $5,000 a month, the top 3 business models are:

  1. Online Business
  2. Freelancing / Consulting
  3. Local Services

Compared to those making less than $5,000 a month, there are some interesting splits in what businesses the highest-earning side hustlers are pursuing:

what are the highest paying side hustles

Perhaps not surprisingly, the $5k+ per month earners are less likely to be involved with gig economy apps, quick cash side hustles, and self-publishing.

Instead, their efforts are focused more on scalable models like Online Business and high-priced freelancing, consulting, and local services. 

10. Are Side Hustles Just for Low Income Earners?

No, side hustles aren’t just for low income earners. In fact, nearly 40% have household incomes of $100,000 or more.

side hustles not just for low income earners

11. Who is Side Hustling by Gender and Age?

Both men and women side hustle at similar rates. According to the Side Hustle Nation website analytics, roughly 45% of visitors are female, and 55% are male.

side hustles percentage men women

Side hustlers tend to skew younger as well, with 54% being 18-34 years old. 

side hustlers by age

To itemize out the age data for side hustlers:

  • 24% are 18-24 years old
  • 30% are 25-34
  • 22% are 35-44
  • 13% are 45-54
  • 7% are 55-64
  • 4% are 65+

One hypothesis is that older workers are more established with their careers and families, and have less time and desire to start a side hustle.

12. When Did Side Hustles Become a Thing?

Dictionary.com says the term was first recorded in the 2000-2005 period, but according to Grammarist, the term side hustle was first used way back in 1950!

dictionary.com side hustle origin

In previous generations, making money outside of your day job may have been known as “moonlighting” or simply starting a business.

13. Have We Reached “Peak” Side Hustle?

Interest in side hustle-related searches has increased dramatically since late 2015:

side hustle searches google trends

While the term was certainly in use prior to that, it didn’t become mainstream until then. Per Google Trends, interest in side hustles peaked in July 2022, but we’ll see if the chart continues to climb.

14. Do People Like Their Side Hustles More Than Their Jobs?

The Hustle found that while only half of respondents “loved” their primary job, 76% loved their side hustle4.

15. What Are the Biggest Challenges Facing Side Hustlers?

I asked Side Hustle Nation subscribers what their biggest struggle was, and grouped the responses into several general categories.

The “Big 3” challenges that came up the most were:

  • Growing their business
  • Dealing with limited time
  • Coming up with the right side hustle idea to move forward with

the biggest side hustle challenges

Mindset issues, administrative challenges, and lack of startup funds also made the list.

16. Do Side Hustles Come From Hobbies?

Vistaprint found that 27% of full-time workers have started making money from a hobby. Another 55% said they’d like to turn a hobby into a business6.

17. How Do Side Hustles Impact Full-Time Jobs?

Research from the University of Iowa found that a side hustle can actually boost performance at your full-time job7. (Despite this, some companies still have “no moonlighting” policies.)

18. Where is Side Hustling Most Common?

Inspired by this data on which metro areas have the most side hustlers, I took a look at some of the location data for Side Hustle Nation visitors.

Not surprisingly, at first glance, most visitors tend to come from the most populated areas: New York, LA, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Dallas, etc.

cities with the most side hustlers

But when I control for population, the data tells a more interesting story. In some cities, side hustling is 2-5x more common than the national average.

Those metro areas are, in order of popularity:

  1. Atlanta, GA
  2. Washington, DC
  3. Salt Lake City, UT
  4. Orlando, FL
  5. Miami, FL
  6. Hartford, CT
  7. Myrtle Beach, SC
  8. Boston, MA
  9. Ft. Myers, FL
  10. St. Louis, MO

Detroit, Seattle, and Denver also sought out side hustle information at roughly double the national average.

19. What Areas Side Hustle the Least?

And where are relatively few people interested in side hustles? Per our data, a lower than average number of people visited Side Hustle Nation from:

  1. El Paso, TX
  2. Bakersfield, CA
  3. Tucson, AZ
  4. Colorado Springs, CO
  5. Wichita, KS
  6. Albuquerque, NM
  7. Fresno, CA
  8. San Antonio, TX
  9. Louisville, KY
  10. Jacksonville, FL

20. How Many New Side Hustles Are Started Each Year?

The exact number of new side hustles started each year is hard to pin down, since many begin as un-registered sole proprietorships.

Still, the US Census Bureau does collect data on new business registrations, which allows us to make an estimate8.

monthly business applications statistics

The gray segment of the chart represents businesses without immediate plans to hire employees. Those are more likely to be side hustles than the “high propensity applications” in orange, which are official incorporations or indicate plans to hire right away.

From this, we can see that in 2023 there are over 400,000 new businesses started every month. Of those, nearly 300,000 are likely to be side hustles. 

Annualized, that equates to nearly 3.6 million new side hustles.

Where Do These Side Hustle Statistics Come From?

This data was compiled from the Side Hustle Nation member survey, Side Hustle Nation website analytics, and other online sources.

Among those:

  1. Bankrate
  2. Experian
  3. Zapier
  4. The Hustle
  5. The Motley Fool
  6. Vistaprint
  7. University of Iowa
  8. US Census Bureau
  9. MSN
  10. Microsoft
  11. Insuranks
  12. Instagram
  13. Newswire
  14. Pinger
  15. GoBankingRates

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Stock photos by Black Salmon and Syda Productions via Shutterstock