The normalizing of everyday life following the COVID-19 pandemic has brought significant shifts in the migrant workforce and global landscape. With countries and economies reopening, migrant and skilled workers are back in demand after a slow two years.
However, the demand for work, mixed with an increasing cost of living both in the Philippines and overseas has caused an increase in migrant workers taking up a second job or side hustle in order to make ends meet.
According to WorldRemit’s recent Cost of Living Index, more than half (54%) of remittance senders have taken up a side hustle since the start of the pandemic.
A 2022 survey showed that inflation has led to more people seeking side hustles. With the boom of the “gig economy,” people have found more ways to earn extra income, as well as satisfy a greater appetite for work flexibility born from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Platform or app-based work, mostly involving delivery, ride-hailing, and short-term rental services, has become particularly popular among gig economy workers.
“While workers get more independence from the gig economy, challenges can be even greater for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) participating in it while in another country,” said Earl Melivo, Head of Asia Pacific of WorldRemit.
“You either tighten your belt because you might have had the same income as you have had in the past years, or you take up another job or side hustles in order to make ends meet.”
Several studies found that migrants doing gig economy work often face unsafe working conditions, low pay, limited job opportunities, and little legal protection. Meanwhile, WorldRemit’s data shows that 82% of senders feel the brunt of inflation and 19% have taken on more jobs to continue supporting friends and family abroad. Some even stick to the jobs they had as students despite having degrees and professional careers, mainly at the expense of their time, lifestyle, and health.
Joy, a Filipino guest relations officer in Japan for 19 years, had taken on another job at a supermarket to keep supporting three children through the pandemic. Because she works six days a week, she takes care of herself as best as she can.
“My extra job is only a temporary solution, as it mostly affects my sleep. This is why I focus on my regular job,” she said.
Rachel, an OFW for over 40 years, still squeezes in delivery work six hours a week on top of being a senior healthcare worker. While her two sons have already settled down in the United States with her, her extra income comes in handy for helping her mother and siblings back home.
Despite migrant workers making more money, WorldRemit’s index also found that 45%of senders now remit to immediate relatives only due to rising inflation. In line with this, both OFWs advised fellow workers to limit their obligations and budget wisely.
“Make sure to set aside some money for yourself and your future,” Rachel said.
“For better or for worse, the gig economy is here to stay and OFWs trying to tide through rising costs of living everywhere will no doubt be part of it,” said Melivo. “The best thing we can do is be a reliable partner that sees them through it.”
For Joy and Rachel, digital remittance services like WorldRemit are a big help by reducing transfer fees and processing time. Along with tools like expense trackers and retirement plans, online money platforms have helped them manage their finances for their own long-term goals.