When A Full-Time Job Isn't Enough To Make It An NPR/Marist poll finds that 30 percent of Americans do something else for pay in addition to their full-time jobs. But those extended workdays can mean giving up an important social support system.
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When A Full-Time Job Isn't Enough To Make It

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When A Full-Time Job Isn't Enough To Make It

When A Full-Time Job Isn't Enough To Make It

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President Trump touted the growth in American jobs in his State of the Union.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Together we are building a safe, strong and proud America. Since the election, we have created 2.4 million new jobs.

KELLY: An NPR/Marist poll, though, finds 1 in 5 are contract workers, and almost a third of Americans with full-time jobs are moonlighting. NPR's Emily Sullivan caught up with one of them.

EMILY SULLIVAN, BYLINE: Emily Doherty has a full-time job at a history museum. When she gets out of work, she switches from slacks to a petticoat. It takes her a good half an hour to carefully tie each of the knots of the long colonial skirt. Once she's ready, she heads to her second job.

EMILY DOHERTY: I have a second career as a first-person theatrical historic interpreter.

SULLIVAN: Meaning the 28-year-old plays a character from the colonial era. She tells stories and sings.

DOHERTY: (Singing) I'll dye my petticoats.

SULLIVAN: Doherty gets off from her day job around 5 and rushes home to heat up dinner and change into her costume. Then her second shift can last for hours. Dorothy finally hits bed around 11, and she does it all again the next day. And on weekends, she can perform another eight hours. In today's economy, almost everyone has a job that wants one. But as our poll shows, nearly a third of full-time workers moonlight. And for many young people, student debt leaves them no choice.

DOHERTY: My graduating class, I have noticed a lot of people have had some unusual career paths. I fully expect my federal loans to not be paid back before I die. I expect to have those for the rest of my life.

SULLIVAN: Doherty says that her long hours take a major toll on her social life. She's missed out on everything from beers with friends to weddings.

DOHERTY: You start sometimes losing your support system, which is one of the most incredibly important things you can have if you're working this much. Invitations stop happening.

SULLIVAN: She also worries that the financial pressure means she'll have to put off having kids. And she's got a point - moonlighting does put pressures on families, according to Susan Lambert. She studies work life at the University of Chicago.

SUSAN LAMBERT: People are doing these long hours because they need the money to earn a decent living and to support their family in a basic, adequate way. Often they are faced with that very hard decision of whether they take on another job or they spend time at home, having dinner with their children.

JON JACOBS: I just decided eventually it just really wasn't worth it.

SULLIVAN: Jon Jacobs knows exactly what that means. He has two small kids and works full time as a substance addiction therapist in Milwaukee. He, too, has student loans from grad school. Jacobs worked a second job as a bartender for 10 years, but he missed putting his kids to bed. So for more flexibility, he started driving for Lyft.

JACOBS: It didn't line up with our life goals and who I wanted to be as a parent. I can see the difference, especially with my son who's almost 2, is Daddy's home at night.

SULLIVAN: Jacobs makes less money than he did bartending, but for him it's more than worth it. But Doherty doesn't have a choice. Each month, she faces a student loan bill of $500. She doesn't regret borrowing all that money to study history in college. But like many moonlighters I spoke to, Doherty says that she's working toward financial peace of mind.

DOHERTY: I hope that in the future I am able to come to a place where I am financially stable enough to do just what drives me and what makes me happy.

SULLIVAN: And what would make her happy is seeing her family back in Maine. She hasn't seen them in three years. Doherty's saving up for a plane ticket home to watch her younger sister perform in a local play. Emily Sullivan, NPR News.


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