Like a lot of Americans hit by the recession, Robert Stokely found himself in a serious cash crunch earlier this year. After taking a hard look at his check book, 56-year old Stokely approached the manager at a local Wendy's and asked for a job working the counter.
He got it -- a $7.25-per-hour position cooking French fries.
But, unlike many of his counter co-workers, Stokely already had a pretty good day job, one that paid him $93,000 a year. In fact, Stokely is the Coweta County, Ga., solicitor general -- an elected position.
"I make a very good living, I'm not complaining, but last year my cost of living raise went down the tubes, my car payment doubled and I was living paycheck to paycheck," said Stokely.
The father of three didn't need much -- he was coming up short by just a few hundred dollars a month. But he didn't want to go into debt and get behind on his financial obligations so the Wendy's gig seemed perfect, in part, because it was right on the way home from his day job.
"I needed something that was flexible and after hours and when you're working for minimum wage you don't want to spend a lot of money on gas," Stokely said.
The reaction to Stokely's moonlighting was decidedly mixed. His son thought it was funny but his wife wasn't too fond of the idea. As for the folks ordering a baconator with fries?
"People judge you. I'm an elected official," Stokely said. "Some people definitely did a double take they would ask me, 'What are you doing here?' and I would say right back, 'I'm making money like everyone else.'"
That's all Alex Metricarti is trying to do, too -- make a little extra money. Metricarti has a full-time job as a marketing administrator at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pa., but these days the 40-year-old mother of two also moonlights as a real estate agent.
"The two-job thing is stressful, but it does offer me peace of mind," she said. "I don't have to worry about every penny now or what would happen if someone gets hurt and we got hit with medical bills. In this economy I can't imagine what it would be like if I didn't have a second job."
Metricarti and her husband both have stable full-time jobs, but neither one of them received a pay raise this year and her husband's company cut both his overtime and his 401k match.
In part, Metricarti said, it's their commitment to providing extra curricular opportunities for their two boys -- Jacob, 12, and Dominic, 8 -- that drives her to work a second job.
"We don't do anything crazy, but my son is playing football and that costs $175, we go to museums ... it starts to add up," she said.
A typical day in this two-parent, triple-income family has Metricarti getting up early to get the kids off to school. Then she heads to Eastern University for a full day's work. At 5:30 p.m. she rushes home, makes dinner and spends time with her kids before heading out to show a house.
"I didn't expect to be in this position. I definitely don't feel desperate. I feel OK, but I didn't expect to have to be working two jobs at my age," she said.
Metricarti certainly isn't alone. A recent study commissioned by CareerBuilder.com found that one in 10 people surveyed are working more than one job. And many more might be soon. Because the same study said that 61 percent of the 4,400 workers surveyed are living paycheck to paycheck.