2013 August 10 Saturday
Almost All Jobs Growth Is Part Time Work

Read this McClatchy piece on the rapid growth in part-time work and the puny growth of permanent work.

“Over the last six months, of the net job creation, 97 percent of that is part-time work,” said Keith Hall, a senior researcher at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center. “That is really remarkable.”

As you would expect part-time workers are poorer.

In 2012, one in four involuntary part-timers lived in poverty, whereas just one in 20 full-time workers lived in poverty.

Do not trust unemployment rates. From June 2012 to June 2013 the unemployment rate dropped from 8.2% to 7.6%. Sound good? The employment rate only rose from 58.6% to 58.7%. More people are giving up on getting jobs than are finding jobs. The American economy is employing 4 million fewer full time workers than it did at the start of the last recession.

In December 2007, at the start of the start of the Great Recession, there were 121.7 million full-time jobs and 24.8 million part-time jobs. In November 2010 (at the time he was writing) there were just 111.1 million full-time jobs but part-timers increased to 27.6 million. Today, there are 117.7 million full-time jobs (a decline since the start of the recession of four million) while part-time jobs have grown by 2.6 million, to 27.4 million. Simply put, full-time jobs are being replaced by part-time ones.

Obamacare health insurance mandates for full time workers bears part of the blame for the decline in full time jobs.

Manual laborers are getting replaced with robots. In manufacturing jobs have only grown for college grads with especially sharp job growth for those with graduate school study. Manufacturers would rather higher engineers and scientists who can develop robots and computer automation systems. Manual laborers? Not so much.

My standard job advice for my readers: Develop more and more valuable skills. You are either going up or going down the economic escalator. If you think you are holding even you are most likely going to start going down. Become more valuable or lower your living standard to save for your poorer future.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2013 August 10 12:49 AM 


Comments
Engineer-Poet said at August 10, 2013 6:03 AM:
My standard job advice for my readers: Develop more and more valuable skills.

In the face of phenomena like the Indian IT mafia, skills are worthless; you cannot get the job no matter how good you are.  We need renewed and STRONG protections for American workers.

Randall Parker said at August 10, 2013 8:40 AM:

E-P,

My advice: Move to a market where your engineering skills are in greater demand. I speak as someone who heeded my own advice after typing this advice here many times.

The worth of skills: depends on which skills and which market. For example: Around Washington DC American citizens can get lots of classified work. Ditto at some military bases and defense contractors. Since I know lots of highly paid Silicon Valley workers I know that is still a great market, albeit one with expensive housing. You'll have to rent if you live there. The rents aren't as high as the house prices.

Develop skills in machine learning. It is very much in demand.

Mobility is key. Gotta be willing to give up your settled life.

SOBL1 said at August 10, 2013 5:47 PM:

Obamacare does share a massive chunk of the burden but so does the phony recovery. No company trusts the final consumer end product demand. I blogged on this a month or so ago. Everyone's marginal buyer is still a bubble credit buyer and B2B companies are fearful that their partner-customers will go bust at the next slight downturn.

Randall Parker said at August 10, 2013 8:45 PM:

SOBL1,

Aside: what is with SOBL1 as compared to just using SOBL?

I get that companies aren't hiring much. But why should they hire part-timers when they do hire? What incentives (aside from the sizable Obamacare incentive) do they have for this choice?

I figure there's more management overhead from hiring more part-timers rather than fewer full-timers. Plus, the full-timers are probably less likely to leave. Turnover raises costs. So I can see reasons for hiring full-timers.

SOBL1 said at August 11, 2013 1:16 PM:

Randall, The name tag depends on what CPU I comment from (home vs. work vs. laptop).

Check out the industries involved for the part time vs. full time issue. It's not manufacturing, engineering, IT, etc. It is retail, warehousing, hospitality and other lower barrier to entry jobs with far less training and human capital investment. The labor supply is high there, so why not limit them to 29.5 hours and hire 3 part timers for the same work as 2 full timers but avoid Obamacare and other benefits (life, dental, 401k match, etc.). Churn is part of the game, as rotating people in and out maintains a steady cost per hour because no one stays long enough to get many raises, yet the low training costs can get a replacement up and running quicker. In those industries, the employees have become the inventory that management has to tend instead of product inventory like in the old manufacturing based economy days. Management overhead might be higher, but that just drives more expenses (wages) towards management. This is exactly like manufacturing firms offshoring production, which cuts production wag down yet places more stress and diverts more resources to the white collar supply chain management and coordination.

Randall Parker said at August 11, 2013 10:54 PM:

Makes sense. Also, if you have more part-timers and one doesn't show up you probably have another part-timer who can work more hours. I see this with a friend who is a waitress. She picks up extra shifts when someone calls in sick. The restaurant has more potential substitute workers because it hires more people with fewer hours per person.

But since almost all the new hires are part-timers that tells us that there is little hiring in industries that use more full-timers. Will this economic stagnation continue? I do not see a new technological trend on par with the 1990s dot com boom that will cause a lot of jobs growth.

Jakle3 said at August 14, 2013 4:27 PM:

I think it's time to become nihilistic, and realize the devils have won.


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