Laid-off workers start side hustles, business ventures to survive amid COVID-19 pandemic

Erwin Oropesa

An unemployed stagehand is suddenly an e-commerce mogul, peddling hard-to-find items such as toilet paper and home fitness equipment. A laid-off personal vacation adviser may have found her true calling — teaching English online to students around the globe. A recruiter is paying the bills as she awaits her unemployment benefit checks by day-trading stocks.

With the coronavirus pandemic throwing tens of millions of Americans out of work or reducing their hours, many are scrambling to make ends meet by taking on part-time jobs and other side hustles, launching new ventures, or playing the market – often from the safety of their homes. 

The phenomenon isn’t captured by the Labor Department’s employment data because of the overall devastation wrought by the virus. In April, a record 20.5 million U.S. jobs were wiped out, and Labor’s May jobs report Friday is projected to record another eight million layoffs, driving the unemployment

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