A Tale of 2 Employments
In July, the number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged at 8.2 million. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.
Contrast this to 2004 when The Heritage Foundation estimated that only one in five part-timers preferred a full-time job.
Look where we’ve come in nine years. The term “involuntary part-time workers” was not even in use. Most people working part time in 2004 wanted to work part time. Today, workers are forced to work part-time because there aren’t enough full-time jobs or because their hours were cut by employers drowning in regulations and out-of-control healthcare costs mandated by Obamacare.
According to the Business News Daily, “Researchers found that involuntary part-time employment grew more in the past five years — 2007 to 2012— than any other five-year span since the 1970s. In that time, involuntary part-time employment among women rose to 7.8 percent from 3.6 percent. Men, on the other hand, saw involuntary part-time employment rise to 5.9 percent from 2.4 percent. The researchers defined involuntary part-time workers as employees working fewer than 35 hours a week because they are searching for full-time jobs.”
But when we dig deeper, the sadder news is that the unemployment rate for black individuals is 12.6 percent, 23.7 percent for teenagers and 9.4 percent for Hispanic Americans.
At one time, part-time work was the norm for teens who wanted a job or maybe just a job for the summer. In 1980, nearly 71 percent of teenagers were employed or looking for employment in July.
In 2000, the average summer employment rate dropped to nearly 52 percent, and it plummeted to 30 percent in 2011. In 2012, just a quarter of teens reported having a paying job. A real crisis, since without a job, they will have no job history, no references and no skills. What will that mean when they hunt for a job as adults?
The handwriting is on the wall. The number of part-time workers — those who had hours cut back or could not find full-time work — rose by 19,000 in July. All-in-all, that category has grown by 607,000 since March.
A report out of Utah found that from 1997 to 2012, the average percentage of part-time workers in the Utah work force was 23.3 percent. In 2012, 24.7 percent of Utah workers were working part time, up from 23.1 percent in 2011.
This is the tip of the iceberg. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the 953,000 jobs “created” so far in 2013, only 23 percent, or 222,000, were full time. Part-time jobs accounted for 731,000 of the 953,000 total.
The University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute policy brief titled “Wanting More but Working Less: Involuntary Part-Time Employment and Economic Vulnerability” showed that:
• Involuntary part-time employment is a key factor in poverty. In 2012, one in four involuntary part-time workers lived in poverty, whereas just one in 20 full-time workers lived in poverty.
• In 2012, involuntary part-time workers were nearly five times more likely than full-time workers were to have spent more than three months of the previous year unemployed.
Perhaps most troubling about our burgeoning involuntary part-time working class, according to the Carsey Institute report, is that “the disparities between involuntary part-time workers and full-time workers are striking. Among women, median family income was $31,928 greater for full-time workers than for involuntary part-time workers. Among men, median family income was $35,000 greater. Both men and women working part time involuntarily were more than five times as likely to live in poverty as those working full time.”
So let President Obama trumpet his supposed jobs creation success, while millions of American workers yearning for full-time employment are forced to take part-time jobs, and millions of teens, Hispanic and black individuals don’t even have that option.
We’re creating a new generation of people who are working their way toward poverty. This simply is not the America that any of us envisioned. Our people want all of the American dream, not just part of it.