Part-time work

Date posted: May 24, 2013

Many people start their careers working part-time, learning job skills, being punctual and taking orders. These are valuable lessons, but today many people are working part-time simply because they can’t find full-time work. Is this a problem? N.C. State University economist Mike Walden responds.

“Well, it is. Part-time work in our statistics is defined as people working less than 35 hours per week. So, if you work more than 35 hours per week, it’s considered full-time.

Right now, we have about eight million people who are working part-time, but who say they would rather be working full-time. So I think that is clearly an issue.

It’s an issue for the country in the sense that in some ways these people are under employed.  That’s obviously an issue for those folks in the sense that they’d like to be putting in more hours and getting more pay.

Actually another problem is that if we look at those eight million people as a percentage of all workers, it’s actually higher today than it was prior to the recession. Now there could be several factors behind the fact that we have so many part-time workers.

It could be, for example, the slow economy. It could be that the folks who are working part-time but want to work full-time don’t have the correct skills. It could be that companies are worried about their costs going up if they employ people full-time.

It could also be based on the types of job. We really don’t have a way of sorting out all those factors.  But clearly this is an issue as we move forward.”

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