After years of endless-seeming work and little sleep, Muyiwa Jaiyeola, 33, shares these tips on surviving two jobs: Never watch the clock...

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CHICAGO —


After years of endless-seeming work and little sleep, Muyiwa Jaiyeola, 33, shares these tips on surviving two jobs: Never watch the clock. Don’t ever miss any buses. Lost travel time means lost sleep. And keep reminding yourself that you will catch up on sleep on weekends, and that you have to keep going to earn money to pay the bills.


When Jaiyeola pulled two all-night shifts at his stockroom job, for example, that meant sleeping two hours in the afternoon after leaving Sears, and then two more in the morning before going back to his salesman’s job. He hoped to nap during his break in the middle of the night.


“When you are determined to do it, you do it,” said Jaiyeola, who puts in a 40-hour week as a salesman at a Sears store and then works another 20 hours in the stockroom of a Gap store.


Nearly 7.6 million Americans straddle two or more jobs and must find time to work, sleep and live somewhat contorted lives in a very full 24 hours. Like Jaiyeola, most workplace moonlighters do it because they want or need extra money to pay bills, according to a 2001 U.S. Labor Department survey. Less than a third take on the added burden because they enjoy it or want to try another job.


Those who specifically need the extra work to pay bills are most often women who take care of their families, and divorced, widowed or separated workers.


Moonlighters’ share of the American work force climbed to 6.5 percent in the mid-1990s and has been shrinking ever since, reaching about 5.3 percent in recent months, government figures show.


One possible reason why there are fewer moonlighters is that people have simply quit the job market, frustrated over the lack of good-paying jobs.


Citing the most recent government statistics, the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank in Washington, said workers’ wages fell by just under 1 percent in the past two years, when adjusted for inflation.


“We think there is a missing labor force,” said Larry Mishel, an economist and the head of the Economic Policy Institute.


But for Jaiyeola, who was born in Chicago and grew up in Nigeria, there wasn’t any thinking about how much his second job would pay.


He only knew five years ago when he took the stockroom job that he needed money to pay tuition and other bills, he said. The two jobs have, indeed, helped pay the bills.


However, the workload forced him to stretch out his days at Northeastern Illinois University, from which he graduated last year, into eight years of studies.


“If I had to do it again, I wish I had a better plan,” he explained.


For the time being, Jaiyeola, who is also saving money to bring his mother to the United States from Nigeria, sees no end to his two-job dance and all that comes with it.


Richard Manera, 38, has also learned how to adjust to working more than one job.


A shift supervisor at a downtown Starbucks, his No. 1 career is acting, singing and dancing.


That means sometimes starting work at 4:45 a.m. at Starbucks on a day when theater rehearsals will run well into the evening. But Manera has grown used to managing such challenges.


Because theater work is temporary and unpredictable, he has relied on Starbucks for the past 12 years as his employment base. The job offers him flexibility. He said he can change his hours or find others to fill in for him at the coffee shop when he has stage jobs.


There have been times, he admits, when he has felt overstretched and considered quitting his coffee-shop job. But colleagues and customers have talked him out of doing so.


“They say to me, ‘You are so good in the show, and you are so good here, too,’ ” he said.


Every so often Irene Diaz’s daughters ask why she can’t spend more time taking them shopping or to the movies. Diaz, a divorcee caring for three teenagers, replies that she has to work two jobs and put in a full day so they have money.


Mornings she works as a home health-care aide, earning $7.50 an hour, and afternoons she is an organizer at the Pilsen Alliance, where she gets $10 an hour.


Not too long ago, she had a $6-an-hour job cleaning banks. “It was a very difficult job,” she said with a frown.


She, too, dreams of holding just one job — a job that lets her plan for the future. As it is, her earnings “are just enough to live on,” she said.