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SALT LAKE CITY — While Utah ranks among the states with a low unemployment rate, the pandemic has prompted many individuals to look for “side hustles” in the gig economy in order to supplement their reduced income.
The state’s 4.1% jobless rate would suggest that Utahns are able to find the kind of work they need to make a decent living, but in some cases that may just be partially true. The pandemic has forced many employers to shed employees or close down altogether because they were unable to recover sufficiently from the massive shutdown, leaving many people needing additional income.
For some, that meant perusing online job boards, but for others there was a different way to find work that offered more flexibility while providing decent pay — a temp agency called Bacon.
“I found out about it through a friend when I was working at another job. I just needed some extra work and one of my friends told me about Bacon,” said Rashaad Nunnally, of Eagle Mountain. “I started using it and I was trying jobs at night after the (day) job that I was (working) at the time. It was kind of cool and it worked out for what I was doing.”
An entertainer by trade, Nunnally, 34, uses the money from his Bacon gigs to provide added financial stability as he continues to pursue his passions of music and entertainment.
“I’m a music artist and small-business owner, so I try to have my time be able to do all the things I need to do and still go home to my family,” he said. “I have a wife and kids, and I’m stretched thin and trying to make ends meet.”
Bacon is an app that connects Salt Lake County and Utah County employers with prequalified, on-demand workers, much like a temporary agency does. However, the platform gives employers and workers the flexibility to select who they want to work with and when, said Bacon CEO Hunter Sebresos.
He said individuals can easily pick up a shift and work a “side gig” anytime, anywhere. This kind of setup offers a reliable way for people to help support their families, earn extra money for college or pay off debts, he added.
“We have a gig work app that helps people find jobs at established companies where they work for a week, a day or even a single shift. And it allows these companies to find the qualified individuals,” he said. “It’s very similar to Uber or Lyft, which is something that most people are familiar with. The difference with us is we’re providing many types of jobs, not just driving jobs. Everything from warehousing, manufacturing, event catering, cleaning and retail.”
Sebresos said most of the employers operate in Utah, along with others in parts of Idaho and Texas. Many of the companies on the platform are employers who went through an initial response to COVID-19 having to shut things down and are now trying to rebuild. He said some companies first want to try to rebuild with temporary solutions because so many things are uncertain at this point.
“(They are) looking at the gig economy or these gig workers to help them during the time of rebuilding. At the same time, there are a lot of workers that may have been shuffled around due to the shutdown and are looking for opportunities to make a little bit of money, stay active and be introduced to new opportunities that are post COVID-19 opportunities,” he said.
“These individuals are looking for flexible ways to get out there and be involved in the workforce.”
Another Utahn who is using the app to add to her personal bottom line is Kelsie Wadsworth.
“It was something to get me by while I looked for a full-time job, and I liked that it was flexible and always day by day,” she said. “It gave me time to find something full-time that I was interested in and be able to take the time to find the right thing.”
Wadsworth, 30, said the platform has afforded her flexibility and financial security as she continues to look for career-based employment opportunities.
“I’m not 100% sure what I’m looking for exactly, what field I want to be in, which is why something like this could be pretty useful because you don’t have to necessarily make a decision right away,” she said.
Over the past year, she has chosen 52 job listings through the app, which she said has been very helpful.
“I’ve been able to support myself all summer by using (the app),” Wadsworth said. “It’s been exactly what I’ve needed.”