Trends in Part-Time Employment

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Friday, 04 July 2014 13:56

A Washington Post article on the June employment report yesterday noted the jump in involuntary part-time employment:

"In June, their ranks [the number of people who are working part-time but want full-time jobs] swelled by 275,000 to 7.5 million. In 2007, 4.4 million people fell into this category."

It is important to note the longer term trend here since the month to month movements are highly erratic. The number of people working part-time involuntarily is down by 640,000 from its year ago level and by more than 1.6 million from its peak in 2010.

There are more people voluntarily working part-time, but this is a positive. (These are workers who answer a survey by saying they have chosen to work part-time, less than 35 hours a week.) The number of people voluntarily working part-time typically rises in an upturn, presumably because workers feel they have more choice about jobs and many people would rather work fewer hours to take care of children or other family members or possibly because their own health makes full-time employment difficult. The Affordable Care Act has likely increased the number of people who are working part-time voluntarily since many workers will no longer feel the need to work at a job that provides health care insurance since they can buy it through the exchanges.