Cities With the Most Residents Who Have “Side Hustles”

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The term “side hustle” generally refers to a job on the side of a full-time job that brings in supplemental income for the worker. Side hustles often begin as a means to provide extra spending money or cover bills, but some eventually turn into full-fledged businesses. According to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 3 million full-time workers (2.5% of total) had side hustles in 2019 and earned a median $6,800 annually from this extra work. These numbers are likely to increase amid the COVID-19 pandemic, alongside record numbers of new business applications.

Interestingly, certain privately conducted surveys show that up to a third or even as many as 45% of Americans perform work on the side. Census Bureau estimates are likely lower due to several factors pertaining to how side hustle work is defined and hesitancy among respondents to report side income on government forms. For one, the Census Bureau survey questionnaire asks respondents specifically about “self-employment income” from their “own businesses.” Less serious side hustlers or side hustlers who earn only a minimal amount of money may not view their efforts as actual businesses and thus might not report their side hustle earnings. In addition, workers may be hesitant to report under-the-table pay to a government agency for fear of being taxed. As such, the side hustle estimates calculated using Census data reflect those more legitimate business ventures that workers are willing to report to a government agency.

These factors perhaps contribute to the fact that higher-income workers are much more likely than low-wage workers to have side hustles, based on Census Bureau data. Over 5% of full-time workers earning over $100,000 per year have side hustles, twice the rate of workers earning $50,000–75,000, and more than six times the rate of workers earning less than $25,000. Having a side hustle is also correlated with educational attainment. Almost 4% of workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher have side hustles, compared with just 1.2% of high school graduates.

The prevalence of side hustler workers also varies by location across the U.S. Some of the Midwestern and Great Plains states have much larger shares of side hustlers than other parts of the country. At the state level, South Dakota (4.6%) and Nebraska (4.2%) have the largest percentage of workers with a side hustle. Workers in these two states tend to earn more from their side businesses as well, with median incomes of $7,500 and $8,000 respectively.


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To determine the metropolitan areas with the most residents who have side hustles, researchers from BackgroundChecks.org analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Metro areas were ranked by the percentage of workers with a side hustle, defined as full-time workers who have positive self-employment income that is less than their wage and salary income. Researchers also calculated the number of total workers with a side hustle, median total income for workers with a side hustle, median side hustle income, and median total income for all workers. Only the 100 largest metros in the U.S. were included in the analysis.

Here are the metros with the most residents with side hustles.

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15. Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN

  • Percentage of workers with a side hustle: 3.1%

  • Total workers with a side hustle: 25,630

  • Median total income for workers with a side hustle: $70,000

  • Median side hustle income: $6,000

  • Median total income for all workers: $47,700

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14. Toledo, OH

  • Percentage of workers with a side hustle: 3.2%

  • Total workers with a side hustle: 6,743

  • Median total income for workers with a side hustle: $66,300

  • Median side hustle income: $6,500

  • Median total income for all workers: $45,000


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13. Boise City, ID

  • Percentage of workers with a side hustle: 3.2%

  • Total workers with a side hustle: 8,262

  • Median total income for workers with a side hustle: $65,000

  • Median side hustle income: $8,000

  • Median total income for all workers: $45,000

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12. Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA

  • Percentage of workers with a side hustle: 3.2%

  • Total workers with a side hustle: 9,359

  • Median total income for workers with a side hustle: $66,000

  • Median side hustle income: $6,400

  • Median total income for all workers: $53,000

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11. Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI

  • Percentage of workers with a side hustle: 3.2%

  • Total workers with a side hustle: 10,800

  • Median total income for workers with a side hustle: $68,500

  • Median side hustle income: $5,500

  • Median total income for all workers: $48,000

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10. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

  • Percentage of workers with a side hustle: 3.2%

  • Total workers with a side hustle: 45,931

  • Median total income for workers with a side hustle: $76,000

  • Median side hustle income: $5,000

  • Median total income for all workers: $58,000

Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

9. Portland-South Portland, ME

  • Percentage of workers with a side hustle: 3.3%

  • Total workers with a side hustle: 6,734

  • Median total income for workers with a side hustle: $77,220

  • Median side hustle income: $5,900

  • Median total income for all workers: $50,000

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8. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA

  • Percentage of workers with a side hustle: 3.3%

  • Total workers with a side hustle: 30,594

  • Median total income for workers with a side hustle: $85,000

  • Median side hustle income: $5,000

  • Median total income for all workers: $55,000

Photo Credit: Roschetzky Photography / Shutterstock

7. Austin-Round Rock, TX

  • Percentage of workers with a side hustle: 3.3%

  • Total workers with a side hustle: 30,970

  • Median total income for workers with a side hustle: $76,000

  • Median side hustle income: $5,000

  • Median total income for all workers: $51,000

Photo Credit: Roschetzky Photography / Shutterstock

6. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO

  • Percentage of workers with a side hustle: 3.4%

  • Total workers with a side hustle: 42,915

  • Median total income for workers with a side hustle: $84,000

  • Median side hustle income: $6,000

  • Median total income for all workers: $59,000

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5. Lancaster, PA

  • Percentage of workers with a side hustle: 3.6%

  • Total workers with a side hustle: 6,872

  • Median total income for workers with a side hustle: $52,000

  • Median side hustle income: $4,600

  • Median total income for all workers: $45,000

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4. Salt Lake City, UT

  • Percentage of workers with a side hustle: 3.6%

  • Total workers with a side hustle: 17,598

  • Median total income for workers with a side hustle: $72,000

  • Median side hustle income: $5,000

  • Median total income for all workers: $49,500

Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

3. Raleigh, NC

  • Percentage of workers with a side hustle: 3.6%

  • Total workers with a side hustle: 20,123

  • Median total income for workers with a side hustle: $72,000

  • Median side hustle income: $8,000

  • Median total income for all workers: $53,000


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2. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT

  • Percentage of workers with a side hustle: 3.9%

  • Total workers with a side hustle: 12,921

  • Median total income for workers with a side hustle: $90,000

  • Median side hustle income: $10,000

  • Median total income for all workers: $70,000

Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

1. Provo-Orem, UT

  • Percentage of workers with a side hustle: 5.4%

  • Total workers with a side hustle: 9,908

  • Median total income for workers with a side hustle: $80,000

  • Median side hustle income: $9,000

  • Median total income for all workers: $50,000

Detailed Findings & Methodology

To determine the metropolitan areas with the most residents who have side hustles, researchers at BackgroundChecks analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample. Metro areas were ranked by the percentage of workers with a side hustle. In the event of a tie, the metro with the larger number of total workers with a side hustle was ranked higher. Researchers also calculated median total income for workers with a side hustle, median side hustle income, and median total income for all workers. Workers with side hustles are defined as full-time workers who have positive self-employment income that is less than their wage and salary income. Only the 100 largest metros were included in the analysis.

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