Unrelenting inflation forces more Americans to consider getting a second job

More than half of working Americans are considering working a second job as painfully high inflation quickly erodes their purchasing power.

That’s according to a new survey by Qualtrics International, which showed that 38% of workers looked for a second job. Another 14% are considering looking for another job, according to the survey of 1,000 full-time US employees.

At the same time, 18% of workers said they moved to an area that has a lower cost of living to cut down on expenses. Another 13% had a plan to do so.

The Labor Department reported last week that the average hourly wage for all employees was down 3% in September from the same month a year ago, considering the impact of rising consumer prices. On a monthly basis, the average hourly wage dropped 0.1% last month, considering rising inflation.

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By this measure, the typical American worker is worse off today than he was a year ago, even though money wages are rising at the fastest pace in years.

This is because consumers are facing scorching inflationwhich rapidly diminished their purchasing power.

The government said last Thursday that the consumer price index, a broad measure of the price of everyday goods including gasoline, groceries and rent, rose 0.4% in September from a month earlier. Prices rose 8.2% on an annual basis.

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Those numbers were higher than the 8.1% in the headline and the 0.2% monthly increase forecast by economists at Refinitiv, a worrying sign for the Federal Reserve that seeks to cool price gains and tame consumer demand with an aggressive campaign to raise interest rates.

In an even more worrying development that suggests inflationary pressures in the economy remain strong, core prices, which exclude the more volatile food and energy measures, rose 0.6% in September from a month earlier. Over the same period last year, basic prices jumped 6.6%, the fastest since 1982.

Inflation has created severe financial pressures for most American families, who are forced to pay more for daily necessities such as food and rent.

The burden is disproportionately borne by low-income Americans, whose already strained wages are heavily impacted by price fluctuations.

While families continued to see some relief in the past month in the form of lowest gas priceswhich fell 4.9% in September from the previous month, further price gains proved persistent and stubbornly high.

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The cost of groceries rose 0.7%, putting the 12-month increase at 13%. Consumers paid more for items like cereal, chicken, milk and fresh vegetables.

US job fair

Job seekers visit booths during the Spring Job Fair at the Las Vegas Convention Center on April 15, 2022. (KM Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Getty Images)

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Shelter costs, which account for about 40% of the rise in core inflation, rose 6.6% last year, the fastest since February 1991.

Rental costs increased 0.8% month-on-month and 6.7% year-on-year. Rising rents are a worrying development because higher housing costs affect household budgets more directly and acutely. Another figure measuring how much homeowners would have paid in equivalent rent if they hadn’t bought their home rose 0.8% in September from a month earlier.

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