Part-Time Work is Becoming the New Normal
1:45 pm, July 15th | by Grace Rasmus
The economy is sort-of looking up these days, with 195,000 new jobs created in June and the unemployment rate staying pretty much stagnant. However, the numbers aren’t that impressive when you take into consideration the number of part-time jobs being added versus full-time jobs.
If you factor in part-timers, as well as people who want to work but have given up on the bleak job market, the Times points out that the actual umemployment rate would be around 13.8 percent, much higher than the current rate of 7.6 percent. In total, more than 62 percent of this month’s job growth was due to a proliferation of low-wage jobs in hospitality, temp services, and retail.
Many predicted that part-time jobs would become abundant in response to the Affordable Care Act, which mandates that companies with at least 50 employees working 30 hours or more a week provide insurance. There’s an obvious loophole for employers looking to escape this burden: hire more part-time workers instead of full-time workers.
The WSJ investigated the restaurant industry’s part-time culture, which has been building ever since employers realized they could avoid paying healthcare costs by cutting employee hours. The high unemployment rate makes this easy, since restaurants can draw from a large pool of desperate people willing to take whatever they can get, even if they would much rather work full-time.
On top of this, Gawker pointed out that there are consultants to help employers “carry out their patriotic duty of paying as little as possible to their employees”:
Employers also are also considering workarounds. Mark Lettelleir, chief executive of M.B.A. Inc., a human-resources firm in St. Petersburg, Fla., is helping several different area restaurants manage their staff so they can share employees. The test program, which is expected to begin in the fourth quarter, will involve about 500 employees of both chain and local restaurants looking to retain their full-time employees without counting them as such.
“There’s nothing inherently wrong with people taking part-time jobs if they want them,” Diane Swonk, an economist, told the Times. “The problem is that people are accepting part-time pay because they have no other choice.”