The US has a “Part-Time” Problem


April 2018

By Selina Stoller, Summit Consumer Receivables Acquisitions, LLC

With unemployment rates down, a complicated issue still exists – a historically high number of Americans who have part-time jobs but want full-time jobs.

According to CNN, economists thought the trend known as “involuntary part-time” was temporary. Now it appears to be a more permanent problem.

Experts blame the ongoing presence of freelance workers and the rise in service sector jobs for the high part-time number.

The current U.S. unemployment rate is 4.1 percent. In March, there were 5 million involuntary part-timers.

The amount of part-time workers is 40 percent higher now than it was in 2000 when unemployment was at similar rates (this does not include people who work part-time because they want to).

According to the Labor Department, there are more involuntary part-time workers now than before the Great Recession. During the recession, employers learned that part-time workers are cheap. They typically do not earn benefits like full-time employees do, which can be expensive. Companies also move toward employment of the lowest common denominator of skills and education. The service sector employees tend to be at the low end of the skills scale and cost employers less than educated workers. These lower the cost of overall labor.

The part-time job problem tends to hold consequences for those who cannot get out of it.

Involuntary part-time workers are five times more likely to live in poverty than full-time workers with similar jobs. They are far less likely to receive benefits like paid time off or health care. On average, they earn 19 percent less per hour than full-time workers in the same position, according to a 2017 analysis by Rebecca Glauber, a sociology professor at the University of New Hampshire.

Many experts believe the involuntary part-time job will continue to be an issue as the economy moves forward.

  • 18 Apr, 2018
  • Josh Smith

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