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Record numbers of Australians are taking on multiple jobs to survive the cost-of-living crunch with new figures revealing the Reserve Bank’s interest rate rises have lifted inflation for working families to almost 10 per cent.
The number of Australians holding down more than one job has reached 950,000 – an increase of 89,000 people over the past 12 months – with large jumps in the hospitality, community, education and administration sectors.
Natasha Piccolo is one of almost 950,000 Australians working multiple jobs to try to make ends meet.Credit: Kate Geraghty
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, one-in-six multiple job holders or more than 155,000 are working in the health and social assistance area, with the total number of people almost doubling since 2011.
One of those people is Natasha Piccolo who has two extra “side hustle” jobs on top of her usual 9 to 5 as a speech pathologist – as an author of The Balance Theory and a small business owner of Pina Piccolina, which caters Italian gelato for Sydney events.
“We have adjusted our business strategy based on our personal finances. We factored in an extra five to 10 events for Pina Piccolina to have more income,” she said.
Women are much more likely than men to have more than one job, as are teenagers and people in their early 20s. Those with multiple jobs are also likely to have a working week five hours longer than someone with a single employer.
The surge in multiple jobs has accompanied higher inflation that data from the bureau, released on Wednesday, shows is hitting those with a mortgage hardest.
While the traditional consumer price index tracks the cost of building new homes, a separate measure of inflation maintained by the bureau includes mortgage interest charges. It also takes in the specific spending patterns of groups in the community including pensioners, self-funded retirees and people on all welfare payments.
For working families, the sharp lift in interest rates – which jumped by almost four percentage points in the 12 months to June – pushed their real inflation rate to 9.6 per cent. Over the same period, the official consumer price index climbed by 6 per cent.
The bureau said mortgage costs for working families had climbed by 91.1 per cent over the past 12 months. Their inflation rate at 9.6 per cent is the highest of any measure of inflation since 1986.
Inflation was lowest for self-funded retirees (6.3 per cent) and age pensioners (6.7 per cent), but all groups had an inflation rate above the official consumer price index.
Piccolo and her husband – who bought their Western Sydney home in 2017 – have come under pressure from the combination of the cost of living crisis and becoming parents.
“Had we not had our side businesses we would have only just been able to make ends meet,” she said.
“The reason we have flexibility is because we have multiple income streams but that was definitely not something that happened overnight.”
This week, the Reserve Bank held official interest rates for a second consecutive month in a move many economists believe is a sign it will hold rates steady for the rest of this year and into 2024.
NAB chief economist Alan Oster says the Reserve Bank could be cutting interest rates by August next year.Credit: Bohdan Warchomij
NAB chief economist Alan Oster still expects the RBA to lift interest rates once more, to 4.35 per cent, towards the end of the year.
But Oster believes that by the second half of next year, the Reserve will have to start cutting interest rates.
“We continue to forecast very slow economic growth in the second half of 2023 and into 2024, alongside a pick-up in unemployment,” he said.
“With rates peaking slightly lower, we have pushed back our expectation for the beginning of rate cuts to August 2024, with the cash rate to return to around 3 per cent in early 2025.”
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