The Economy Today: Moonlighting Back in Vogue

Headlines from Michigan, Illinois, Montana, and elsewhere

A tough job market is pushing some workers to take on second jobs, USA Today reports. According to various surveys, the number of Americans who are working a second job has risen this year. An AARP survey found that almost one fifth of Americans ages 45 to 54 took on a second job. But moonlight also takes a toll on families and on physical and emotional well-being, and while experts counsel workers to consider the financial pros against these cons, many Americans feel like they don’t have a choice.

According to The New York Times, the skilled labor market is seeing a high demand for workers. Although unemployment numbers are growing, there are plenty of jobs for welders, critical care nurses, electrical linemen, and geotechnical engineers. But, employers aren’t looking for newly minted workers who are transitioning to these fields because of the recession. Most companies are looking for experienced laborers who have at least ten years on the job. Part of the demand in these specialties comes from the stimulus bill that will spend money on infrastructure and require skilled workers.

Collection agencies are another segment of the economy that’s doing well in the recession, The Wall Street Journal reports. Their volume is growing: “Compared with last year, Portfolio Recovery Associates Inc. and Encore Capital Group Inc. collected 13% and 10% more consumer debt, respectively, in the most recent quarter, a time when many other holders of bad debt suffered. Analysts at IBISWorld say industry revenue is expected to fall $200 million this year to about $14.2 billion.” What’s more, the Journal suggests that collection companies may make for solid investments as their share prices have gone in the last year.

In local news, Michigan’s lawyers are losing jobs in the recession. One Illinois county is considering to cutting stimulus money to farmland preservation. A Montana school district will hire twenty-five new teachers with the ARRA funds.

Detroit’s top law firms are laying off attorneys and staffers, The Detroit News reports. Real-estate lawyers are among those hit hardest by the recession, while their colleagues in the bankruptcy division are seeing a boom in business. The speciality is attracting lawyers from other specializations to consider a switch, and some firms are holding meetings to help interested attorneys figure out if the move is right for them. But despite the current allure of the bankruptcy biz, attorneys on the inside say the boom won’t last.

Montana’s Great Falls Tribune reports that one district will create twenty-five teaching jobs with the $5.4 million in federal stimulus. The district will hire “two specialists to redesign services for emotionally disturbed children, a technology plan coordinator at East Middle School, five full-time para-professionals to work with special-needs students, physical therapy assistants, two school psychologists, a high school math coach, four new elementary counselors, an additional high school counselor, two preschool teachers and one part-time parent program facilitator,” but the positions all come with a two-year contract, despite community need for more educators and staff.

Illinois’s Geneva county is considering diverting money from a farmland preservation program to create a local economic stimulus program, The Chronicle reports. The county has almost $2 million that was allocated to protect farmland from development, but the money might be better spent to create incentives for businesses to come to Geneva county, some local legislators say.

Tennessee’s Kingsport Times-News says that part of the stimulus money will go to help families in rural Virginia through the Rural Area Development Agency. The $500,000 grant will go to provide emergency assistance, rent and mortgage support, education, job and financial management counseling. The RADA has seen demand grow in the past year, “just over 2,200 people received assistance from RADA between July 2007 and June 2008. That number rose to nearly 3,200 between July 2008 and June of this year.”

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Katia Bachko is on staff at The New Yorker.