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Initial Unemployment Claims Fall as Americans Seek Side Hustles

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Initial unemployment claims continued their decline last week, the largest consecutive drop since September.

New claims fell by 8,000 to 215,000 for the week ending May 18, the Labor Department announced Thursday (May 22). This followed another decline the previous week, thus making it the largest back-to-back drop in eight months.

The new figures surpassed the numbers forecast by Reuters and Bloomberg’s survey of economists, which had projected 222,000 new claims.

“Claims settled down from the previous week, so the acceleration some had feared hasn’t come to pass,” Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union, told Reuters. “The labor market remains robust, and if claims are the canary in the coal mine for jobs, it has yet to develop a mild cough.”

While fewer people may be losing their jobs, many are finding that the jobs they have aren’t enough to cover their bills, as recent research from PYMNTS Intelligence has shown.

According to the report “High-Income Consumers Lead Surprising New Data on Side Hustles,” 30% of consumers who now earn cash on the side said that the loss of that extra income would have a very or extremely negative effect on their financial stability.

That percentage climbed to 53% for consumers who live paycheck to paycheck and have trouble paying their bills.

But it’s not just people who are struggling feeling pinched these days. The report, based on insights from a survey of 4,203 consumers, found that 26% of high-income earners (those who make upwards of $100,000 per year) looked for extra income in recent months.

“What may be surprising is that these high-income consumers are not coasting on investments — they are the group most likely to receive funds from active sources, such as reselling items, carrying out informal tasks or making artisan products,” PYMNTS wrote earlier this week.

The research showed that 22% earned additional money through active means, while 20% said they collected extra cash via passive income.

“That suggests they may be drawn to these easy-to-access (and perhaps even enjoyable) methods of making money,” PYMNTS wrote.

By way of comparison, the research showed that around 16% of people who make less than $50,000 per year supplement their income via active means, while 12% earned passive income.