Skip to main content

Prior to COVID-19 displacing millions of workers and leaving some without hope of returning to work, the side hustle economy was booming. From Silicon Valley workers developing startups in their free time to teenagers selling on Clickbank™ to college students driving for Uber™, having a least one side hustle was the norm.

When COVID-19 came thundering into reality, those who had a side hustle that was generating revenue, began to focus more attention in that area. Richard, a chiropractor from Toronto, Ontario, was forced to close his office and layoff his staff however fortunately, his wife, Megan, had started a direct selling business several years earlier. Although the office has now reopened, Megan’s direct selling business paid the family’s bills during the quarantine and for that, they are both extremely grateful.

People Do Not Want to Rely on One Stream of Income

The perception was that side hustles were traditionally for those who couldn’t earn a significant amount of money at their job. During the great recession from 2007 to 2009, however, that changed significantly. When people saw what they perceived to be stable jobs get uprooted, especially those in Gen X (born 1965 to 1980)  who were entering middle management positions at that time, there was a determination to not be reliant on one source of income that took on a new life.

As we head into a new decade, and hopefully put COVID-19 behind us, the side hustle economy is booming. As Gen X enters their retirement years and their kids, Gen Z (those born after 1995) come into adulthood, a new phenomenon is brewing and one of the key reasons is that the older members Gen Z remember their parents facing the recession. They were old enough at the time to recall discussions about finances. This changed their prerogative surrounding the concept of a side hustle. To Gen Z, the side hustle is the norm, it is not the exception.

Brandon is now twenty-one but remembers his parents stressing about money when he was just ten. His mother, an Ivy League educated professional starting selling cosmetics on the side to subsidize the family. As young as he was, he made a decision to always have multiple streams of income. By the time he was in high school, he had started to make money on Clickbank™ and was running social media accounts for local businesses. Instead of heading to college, he and his friends, decided to foray full-time into entrepreneurship. Today, Brandon oversees two successful businesses and is working on a third.

Millennials are also accustomed to having a side hustle. In fact, 49% of people under the age of 35 have a side hustle according to a survey from  Bankrate.Com. As this generation begins to have children and the cost of living increasingly rising, their children will also come to believe that having one, two, or even three side hustles is the norm.

So, Which Generation Leads The Side Hustle Economy? – Here is how side hustling breaks down by generation:

Gen Z               –           43%

Millennials      –           54%

Gen X              –           39%

Baby Boomers –           24%

Although a significant number of Gen Z are still living at home. That hasn’t stopped them from going to school and developing a side hustle. 9-year old Ryan Kaji reportedly made over $26 million in 2019 as a YouTube star and he is leading a generation of young people who no longer dream of becoming a physician or an engineer, they want to become influencers, create startups, and eschew the traditional 9-5.

The Parents and Grandparents Are Catching Up

Millennials and Gen Z may be leading the charge in terms of embracing the side hustle economy, their parents, and grandparents, are opting to have multiple streams of income as well. With the rising cost of living, low retirement savings, and the ease of which people can start a side hustle, it is very likely that Gen X and Baby Boomers will soon catch up to their children and grandchildren in embracing the side hustle economy.

If you have a side hustle, or are looking to start one, checkout my YouTube Channel. This channel is dedicated to teaching the skills and mindset to help side hustlers of all ages.  For a list of the top work from home trends in 2021, check out this post.


Susan Sly

Author Susan Sly

Susan Sly is considered a thought leader in AI, award winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker, best-selling author, and tech investor. Susan has been featured on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime, ABC Family, and quoted in Forbes Online, Marketwatch, Yahoo Finance, and more. She is the mother of four and has been working in human potential for over two decades.

More posts by Susan Sly