Lion of the Blogosphere

It sucks to have a part-time job

Mort Zuckerman writes in the Wall Street Journal:

There has been a distinctive odor of hype lately about the national jobs report for June. Most people will have the impression that the 288,000 jobs created last month were full-time. Not so.

The Obama administration and much of the media trumpeting the figure overlooked that the government numbers didn’t distinguish between new part-time and full-time jobs. Full-time jobs last month plunged by 523,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What has increased are part-time jobs. They soared by about 800,000 to more than 28 million. Just think of all those Americans working part time, no doubt glad to have the work but also contending with lower pay, diminished benefits and little job security.

Theoretically, people could choose to work part-time because they value their leisure more than they value extra income, but the reality of how our labor markets work is that there are no good part-time jobs even for people who want them. Good jobs in good career tracks are all full-time jobs. Part-time jobs are crappy jobs like working at Walmart. Thus last month’s “improvement” in the employment numbers are hiding the reality that labor markets are getting worse for the median employee.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

July 17, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Posted in Labor Markets

50 Responses

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  1. Good jobs in good career tracks are all full-time jobs. Part-time jobs are crappy jobs like working at Walmart.

    This is generally true, and it’s a problem badly in need of solving, given that if you already have basically everything material that a person needs to be content, there’s no reason you should have to work 40h a week.

    Anyway, I can think of exceptions, too. Plenty of women and older men work part-time in medicine, which is a great gig if you can get it.

    Samson J.

    July 17, 2014 at 11:36 AM

  2. It’s too bad there aren’t many good part-time jobs. They are good in the sense that they allow someone to make close to the bare minimum they need to survive while pursuing self-actualizing work which typically pays little to nothing (they are good day jobs in other words, that’s about it).


    July 17, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    • There are a lot of unpaid “internships” that non-college students qualify. Interesting work at a museum but it pays nothing. A Basic Income subsidy would allow a person to engage in it without issues.


      July 17, 2014 at 1:13 PM

      • Internships are the new slavery.


        July 17, 2014 at 3:08 PM

  3. NYT, 07/15/14: A Push to Give Steadier Shifts to Part-Timers

    …As more workers find their lives upended and their paychecks reduced by ever-changing, on-call schedules, government officials are trying to put limits on the harshest of those scheduling practices…

    E. Rekshun

    July 17, 2014 at 11:52 AM

    • Exactly. Part-time has only gotten worse, because it increasingly demands that workers commit to a full-time level of availability. They can’t plan their week or even their day, they can’t moonlight, and have to be tethered to their phone when “off the clock.”


      July 17, 2014 at 1:32 PM

      • This


        July 17, 2014 at 2:15 PM

  4. NYT, 07/17/14: Microsoft Layoffs to Cut Up to 18,000 Jobs

    Microsoft said Thursday that it planned to eliminate up to 18,000 jobs over the next year…representing about 14 percent of its work force. Microsoft will make the deepest cuts from the businesses it acquired from the Finnish phone maker Nokia. About 12,500 of the jobs being eliminated will come from the Nokia groups, resulting from the closing of a factory in Hungary and other changes. That is about half the number of employees who joined Microsoft from Nokia a few months ago, when Microsoft completed its acquisition of Nokia’s mobile business…

    In 2000, as I completed my MBA, I went through a progression of seven job interviews w/ Microsoft in Redmond and in Florida. I thought it all went very well and was expecting an offer for a Ft Lauderdale-based job in the Latin America Division, but none was forthcoming. I guess my Spanish wasn’t fluent enough. Or maybe I was the dupe used to lay the excuse for another H-1B visa.

    E. Rekshun

    July 17, 2014 at 12:02 PM

  5. The rise in part-time jobs is entirely the result of government meddling. The government draws an arbitrary line that says that employers must pay a large amount of benefits for people over the line and not under. This creates a huge distortion of the job market, as companies rationally sneak more people under the line.


    July 17, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    • Nothing in America benefits the average person. Did you know that mental health professionals in America are paid like home health aides? Mental health counselors don’t care whether the person is happy. They just need a paltry job and pay their bills. Average citizen in America has very little social and cultural capital. Even with all the money, you will not easily find people who will come to your cause in times of need.


      July 17, 2014 at 10:54 PM

  6. I recently reduced my work schedule by 20%. I now take off every Friday (w/o pay, but retain full benefits). Every weekend is a three-day weekend!

    E. Rekshun

    July 17, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    • Other than someone with a golden handcuff or family obligation, I really see no reason for people breaking their backs in America to earn a substantial amount of money because we are a culturally stagnant society. They aren’t any new trends where people are looking forward to make an insane amount of money so they can enjoy them. However, it is true that affordable housing in a safe and clean neighborhood, free from undesirables is one of the biggest concern.


      July 17, 2014 at 1:26 PM

  7. “employment numbers are hiding the reality that labor markets are getting worse for the median employee.”

    Agreed. I wonder how much of this is the result of Obamacare since employers don’t have to give part time workers healthcare.


    July 17, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    • Even so, this doesn’t affect people in good jobs in good career tracks. I can see a company with a lot of minimum wage employees which didn’t pay health insurance before Obamacare reducing the hours of non-essential personnel in order to avoid paying for what they previously didn’t pay for anyway. The 29-hour-per-week minimum-wage employee probably qualifies for Medicaid, especially if he or she lives in a state that accepted the Medicaid expansion, so they are better off working fewer hours for better (government-paid) benefits.

      • Can’t there be a transition from the PT facet of the workforce (ie, college/school jobs) to FT?

        Half Canadian

        July 17, 2014 at 7:07 PM

      • As jusual, LotB thinks it’


        July 18, 2014 at 1:03 AM

  8. In reality, the labor market is at Depression levels. Shadowstats unemployment is over 20%. The “official” numbers are so much nonsense. Yet the flood of immigrants continues, and not just the “children” washing over the border, but the swarms of Asians as well.

    I wonder just how many jobs are held by people who arrived in America within the last ten years. I would suspect tens of millions.


    July 17, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    • The PIGS countries in Europe are like Murka but use real statistics.


      July 17, 2014 at 9:37 PM

      • The PIGS live better than the Americans. Guys who live in their parents’ basement are still able to date women w/o stigma and their families run a pretty tight ship with plenty of good food to go around.

        The average American is a pitiful being, with no social or cultural capital to say the least. We don’t hear of PIG guys going on a shooting rampage because they have no support from anyone. That’s a Made in the USA thing.


        July 18, 2014 at 1:11 PM

  9. Full-time employment in this country peaked in November, 2007, at 121,875,000. Now it stands at 118,204,000, a deficit of 3,671,000. Full-time employment today is about the same as eight years ago. From the mid-1980’s until the start of the recession, full-time employment growth outpaced population growth. Since then, it’s declined. Obamacare sure hasn’t helped, since it in effect penalizes full-time and incentivizes part-time employment, but that’s only part of the story. The decline started well before Obamacare was passed. According to the US government, U3 and U6 unemployment rates peaked in 2009 and have been more or less declining since then. However, taking into account the record low rates of participation in the labor force, the “real” unemployment rate is over 20%, as Shadowstats notes. Yet immigrants continue to flood across our southern border, and Microsoft lays off 18,000 yet needs more H1-B’s. Numbers here.

    Black Death

    July 17, 2014 at 1:03 PM

  10. Many jobs that are full-time in the US are part-time in the Netherlands because Dutch women prefer part-time work. Employers were forced to restructure jobs. I guess they didn’t get enough immigrants or something.


    July 17, 2014 at 1:13 PM

    • and holland is a multiethnic society with govt spending more than 50% of gdp and yet it is richer than the uk, has a very small intergenerational income elasticity compared to the uk and us, and much lower income inequality.

      reagan, thatcher, and their kind are to blame.

      jorge videla

      July 17, 2014 at 3:37 PM

      • I notice when you spout how high taxes are for Denmark and Netherlands you don’t give a source. I suspect that’s because you don’t want people to know what those numbers really are. Denmark and Netherlands have maximum individual tax rate of 52%. The US maximum individual tax rate is 56% which is fifth highest in the world. That should make you very happy.


        July 17, 2014 at 6:25 PM

      • The majority of the ultra-rich voted for Obama who promised to raise their taxes even more.

      • It’s not going to last for the Netherlands. Not as bad off as France yet, but well on their way.

        16.4% of the total births in 2003 were to parents of non-European origin, although they account for only 12.4% of the population in the 25-34 age group. For example, 3.8% of the births were ethnic Moroccan, although they were only 2.26% of the 25-34 age group. Respective figures were 3.27% and 3.0% for Turks. The TFR for Moroccans in 2003 was 3.3 while the general TFR was 1.73. TFR was 2.3 for Turks, 1.7 for Surinamese, 1.8 for Arubans, 3.0 for Africans and 1.8 for Latin Americans.


        July 17, 2014 at 6:31 PM

      • Spain’s household wealth is greater than that of the average American in greater America, minus the big liberal centers. A Southern Euro nation of insignificance lives better than the prole in prole town USA. And in NYC, kids are set to lose money after college. 150K job and lives in a 30K rent yearly apt and restaurant bills = $0 in their savings account or even minus zero if you take student loans into consideration.


        July 17, 2014 at 10:11 PM

      • And Americans love to live the hamster wheel lifestyle – essentially no life, just work for the capitalists and keep working until they die or pass out.


        July 17, 2014 at 10:36 PM

      • the top rate is meaningless, because so few pay it. just like the effective corporate income tax rate is much less than the top marginal rate. effective total tax rate in the us is FLAT.

        i was referring to the % of gdp which is govt spending. this may be much higher than the % which is tax revenues. but if you’d looked at my “irrelevant links” below you would see this too is much higher than the american rate 38% vs 24%.

        drrr! drrr! drrr!

        jorge videla

        July 18, 2014 at 1:36 AM

      • by “so few pay it”, obviously, i didn’t mean only the rich pay it. because almost none of them do, and all of them live in nyc or california i’d bet.

        jorge videla

        July 18, 2014 at 1:41 AM

      • Given the fact that welfare programs in America are for the wrong people and they are rarely effective, Americans are taxed more indirectly. They have to pay out of pocket for healthcare to some Byzantium healthcare provider, usually with terrible customer service, and most likely staffed by a rude black woman or some other low IQ undesirable.

        Welcome to America folks, you get what you pay for. Our elites love screwing the masses. Credit Companies love targeting their unsuspected victims who for work corporate companies who refuse to pay them a liveable pay raise. So why not give it to them in form of a credit balance with interest where you have to paid it back. And if you’re in the lower under-educated prole class, then the military industrial complex or law enforcement agency is your only hope of making a decent living. And our law enforcement and military suck because of this reason.


        July 18, 2014 at 12:21 PM

      • ross

        Your numbers don’t match government spending as percent of gdp.

        They match the maximum individual tax rates for those countries.

        If you want people to know what you’re referring to then you should specify. If you want people to read your links then you should clearly state the reason for them. To be honest, I generally ignore you and regret it when I don’t. Not because I disagree with you — there are plenty of people I disagree with whom I respect and enjoy talking to — but because you’re immature, snide and rarely say anything worthwhile.


        July 18, 2014 at 12:54 PM

  11. Good jobs in good career tracks are all full-time jobs

    I know of 2 people who quit their Wall St jobs recently. Both have MBAs and were working for the big banks. They were citing reasons such as work politics and being overworked.


    July 17, 2014 at 1:15 PM

    • There are jobs in those fields which require extreme work-time, such as 70 hours a week or more. So I can see why people would want to leave a job like that for one which paid less money, especially if the new job still pays more than $200K/year.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      July 17, 2014 at 1:17 PM

      • the average doctoral candidate in synthetic organic chemistry is required to work at least 60 h per week. but that’s likely the extreme.

        jorge videla

        July 18, 2014 at 1:43 AM

  12. These stories don’t take into account people like, well, me. I work 28 hours a week at my main job. It had been 40 hours, with the reduction to 28 hours being for reasons beyond the company’s control. Even at 28 hours I still qualify for health insurance.
    I also work an average of 16 hours a week at the Major Home Improvement Retailer. So between the two jobs, I average about 44 hours a week, it’s just not at one job. Lest you think this is unusual, most of my co-workers at both jobs do the same thing. It’s really not so bad. You get a sense of security that you don’t have if all your eggs are in one basket.



    July 17, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    • it’s certainly better than sleeping on a cot in your office.

      jorge videla

      July 17, 2014 at 3:38 PM

    • Working two jobs allows people to get around overtime pay. I’d bet it’s increasingly common.

      D N Harber

      July 17, 2014 at 6:31 PM

  13. This part-time job increase is a seasonal fluctuation that is very familiar to labor economists and statisticians. It predictably occurs every summer (amusement parks, summer camps, hotel/tourism) and Christmas season (retail).


    July 17, 2014 at 3:20 PM

    • It might not even fluctuate anymore given the fact that consumption is down due to a lack of good paying jobs, where Wall St is beginning to have some worries.


      July 17, 2014 at 11:09 PM

    • Another mundane obvious comment from anon. Battin 1000 bro!


      July 18, 2014 at 1:26 AM

  14. MH17. Let’s do it, Lion.


    July 17, 2014 at 3:58 PM

  15. In 2013 I got busted to part time, 28 hrs approx, and I was fine with it because they let me learn a new skill, software documentation, while keeping my other duties which had slowed down. I caught them up on their backlogged documentation updates and bug fixes, and then they laid me off. A month later their doc manager quit because she was assigned my old duties. Haha, I could have stepped right into her job. Oh well.

    One thing I noticed, the less I work, the less I want to work. My commitment really falls off, and I got little else done with the extra time.


    July 17, 2014 at 8:34 PM

    • I would rather work for $5 an hour in a third world country than submit to these smug pricks again. When I think of all the indignity that I put up with, because I thought I was “getting somewhere”…


      July 18, 2014 at 1:29 AM

      • How to tell if you’re about to enter a dead-end white collar career track. It’s a suitably leonine topic.


        July 19, 2014 at 5:55 AM

  16. Corporations are gearing up for Osamacare by shedding as many FT workers as possible and replacing them with 29ers: folks who work no more than 29 hours per week. Thanks, Osamacare!


    July 17, 2014 at 11:14 PM

  17. Best gig I ever had was part time working in a bar. Free booze and plenty of snatch.


    July 18, 2014 at 12:20 AM

  18. maybe this is a good thing and is an indicstion thay we are entering the leisure era where the average work week is 28 hours.


    July 18, 2014 at 2:30 AM

  19. I did an accounting degree while working in HVAC and accounting has plenty of good part time positions. I’m staying with HVAC because I’m having fun, but if I’ll need to switch in my old age, I’m looking forward to a part-time position.


    July 18, 2014 at 9:21 AM

    • I have to say certain prole professions such as Accounting could be upgraded to SWPL status, if they’re done part time, and if it’s bean counting for the wealthy.


      July 18, 2014 at 12:08 PM

  20. Manhattan GMAT (which has locations around the country) pays its part-time instructors $100 per hour. You just need to have scored in the 99% percentile on the quant & verbal sections of the GMAT.

    Dave Pinsen

    July 20, 2014 at 2:07 AM

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