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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Choosing to hustle is a luxury. The hustle culture debate misses a bigger economic picture.

Why it matters: Workers are wary (and weary) of hustle culture, as the economy comes out of the pandemic. But for tens of millions of Americans, working nonstop may be a necessity. 

Driving the news: Interest in "hustle culture" spiked to new highs this spring, based on Google Trends data dating back to 2004. That coincided with debates on Twitter, whose platform skews younger and more affluent.

Working to live: One version of hustle culture, as an aspirational lifestyle and micro-industry, can be traced back to entrepreneurs like Gary Vaynerchuk and Silicon Valley CEOs like Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer.

  • “When reporters write about Google, they write about it as if it was inevitable,” Mayer told Bloomberg in 2016. “The actual experience was more like, ‘Could you work 130 hours in a week?’”
  • Celebrityside hustles” on social media fueled the glamour. 

Living to work: Striving to work hard, and constantly, is not seen as sustainable.

  • But it may be the only option for some of the lowest paid workers in the economy.
  • Over the past 20 years, the percentage of workers who hold more than one job has been increasing —  driven by growth among women (9.1%) and jobs hardest hit by the pandemic (retail, food service and accommodation).
  • Nearly 21 million people in the U.S. are still feeling the economic impact of COVID, which has disproportionately impacted lower income workers.

The pandemic effect: The global health crisis caused some people to reevaluate their priorities. For many, it exacerbated a grind that enabled them to "live at work" while working from home.

What they're saying: I won't embrace "the hustle" ever again, one Closer subscriber told Axios. "I will say, 'No way,' more often … if it’s not a 'Hell Yeah,' then it’s a, 'No.'"

  • But the current hustle culture will never go away, technology entrepreneur and investor Alexis Ohanian tells Axios. "It's a way some people make a living (selling the 'secret,' glorifying the process, etc)."
  • Still, Ohanian says that "our collective immune systems are a lot stronger against the bullsh*t of hustle culture."

What to watch: JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon, lamenting that remote work prevents young people from "hustling," won't help the culture abate.

Go deeper

The economic impact of Black women

Reproduced from S&P Global; Chart: Axios Visuals

Economic inequality has been exacerbated by the pandemic and left Black women — and potential growth for the broader U.S. economy — even further behind, according to a new report today from S&P Global.

Why it matters: Black women have been hindered by economic disparities in nearly all aspects of American life, particularly when it comes to wage growth and opportunities in school and at work.

10 mins ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to actually deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine.

Updated 41 mins ago - Economy & Business

S&P 500 on track for worst-ever start to year

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Stocks suffered their steepest drop of the year early Monday, putting the S&P 500 on course for its worst-ever start to a year.

Driving the news: The benchmark S&P 500 dropped for its fifth straight day, with losses nearing 3% in early trading, momentarily putting it on track to fall into a "correction." Some of the steepest losses were recovered in early afternoon trading.