One in three Americans—34 percent—have a side hustle. 61.1 million Americans (24 percent) plan to start a side hustle in 2021.
That's according to a recent Zapier survey of 2,001 Americans over 18 conducted online by The Harris Poll. The data also shows that many of these side hustles are relatively new. Among Americans who have a side hustle, two thirds (67 percent) started it within the past three years, and about 3 in 10 (31 percent) started in 2020.
And the trend is only growing. About a quarter of Americans—24 percent—plan to start a side hustle in 2021, and about another quarter—27 percent—are undecided.
At Zapier, we've helped people—everyone from a career coach to a remote pizza party host, from a vintage art seller to a digital marketing strategist—efficiently run their side hustles while managing their full-time jobs. Here's what our data suggests the side hustle scene looks like heading into 2021.
Why start a side hustle? Money is a big reason—but not the only one
Almost half of Americans with a side hustle—46 percent—say they were motivated to start it by the prospect of creating passive income, by far the most common reason given. And there were other financial goals motivating this trend as well:
Diversify income—33 percent
Save up for a specific financial goal—25 percent
Save up for a specific purchase—23 percent
But money wasn't the only motivator. Non-financial reasons for starting a side hustle include:
Do something fun, or something they enjoy—38 percent
Develop new skills—28 percent
Test a specific business idea—16 percent
Parents are more motivated by factors other than money
Parents of kids under 18 are almost twice as likely as those who are not (49 percent vs. 28 percent) to say they currently have a side hustle. Parents are also more likely to start a side hustle for reasons that aren't directly financial, while they are equally as likely to cite various financial reasons. Among those with a side hustle:
Parents are over twice as likely to have started their side hustle to test a business idea—24 percent versus 10 percent
Parents are far more likely to start their side hustle to develop new skills/experience—36 percent versus 22 percent
Parents are about equally as likely as those who aren't parents of kids under 18 to say they started a side hustle to create passive income (42 percent and 49 percent), to diversify their income (34 percent and 32 percent), or to save for a specific purchase (24 percent and 21 percent).
Starting a side hustle isn't easy—that's why they call it a hustle. But that hasn't stopped the majority of Americans from starting one or planning to start one this coming year.
Survey method: This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Zapier from December 21-23, 2020 among 2,001 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, among whom 696 currently have a side hustle. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. Number of Americans who plan to start a side hustle based on 2019 population estimates from the U.S. Census (.776 x 328,239,523 = 254,713,870 U.S. adults ages 18+). 254,713,870 U.S. adults ages 18+ x .24 (percent who plan to start a side hustle in 2021) = 61,131,329 or 61.1 million Americans plan to start a side hustle in 2021.