The 7.5 Million People Who Can't Find Full-Time Employment


Flickr / Marcin Wichary.

The Great Recession has left an indelible mark on American workers, saddling the labor market with a historically high number of long-term unemployed and discouraged workers.

But, even among the working, troubles persist. The U.S. currently has 7.5 million persons working part-time involuntarily, simply because they cannot find full-time jobs. For a host of reasons, this state of affairs is not only depressing wages for the affected workers, but is harming the entire American workforce.

Part-time work dilutes jobs figures
The number of those employed part-time for economic reasons – as the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls them – is disturbingly high, a mere 2.2 million fewer than the number of Americans currently considered unemployed. Part-time work has become a bit of an epidemic in this post-crisis economy, and the effects are obvious on the labor market as a whole.

The average number of hours worked per week in July, for example, was a dismal 34.5 hours for the fifth month in a row, far short of the once-common 40 hours. Pay remains stuck in a rut, too, with hourly pay increasing a measly 2% over the past 12 months.

The plight of the part-timer
It is easy to see why so many part-time workers can bring down average workweek numbers, as well as pay. Part-timers are often in no position to negotiate pay raises, and suffer from wildly fluctuating work schedules that can cause variations of several hours from one work week to the next.

The issue of irregular work schedules has become huge. Employers schedule employees to maximize their profits, often with no input from the affected workers – and very little notice. A recent study shows that nearly half of all part-time hourly workers get a maximum of one week's advance notice of the hours they will be working for the next week. This situation makes it nearly impossible to coordinate more than one part-time job, which many workers may need to help make ends meet.

Incredibly, erratic work schedules can even include "on-call" status for hourly part-time workers, who are not always paid for a minimum of four hours when they are called in to work. The problem has become so severe that several Democrats on the House Education and the Workforce Committee have introduced legislation called the "Schedules That Work Act" to help give employees more say in their workplace scheduling.

A lop-sided state of affairs
The optimizing of work schedules in this way can be a boon to employers, in several ways. Not only does the practice yield immediate, profitable results for individual businesses, but a steady supply of desperate workers helps keep overall wages down, as part-timers can be used to supplement the full-time workforce, as well as help businesses avoid overtime costs.

Considering the win-win situation for employers, there seems little motivation for them to alter their current hiring and scheduling practices. Unless legislation forces a change, the current state of affairs will continue to be a burden for American workers still struggling to recover from the Great Recession.

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  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2014, at 2:26 PM, kennyhobo wrote:

    Obama is an incompetent, corrupt fool who covers his actions with lies. The news media has become the greatest terrorist organization in the world by supporting Obama and his destruction of the poor and middle class. The US is in trouble because the media is now controlled by truth terrorists!

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2014, at 5:00 PM, dannaddan wrote:

    after obama approves amnesty,guest workers without fear of deportation or whatever you want to call it,that count will automatically be 12.5 to 15.5 million.immediatly. then,due to the nightmare act,there will be millions more illegal college educated graduates taking higher paying jobs.

    but that's ok,because those college graduates might not get those jobs.ISIS has vowed to put the islamic flag above the white house,and with our open borders,they can just walk right in.after all,"children escaping gang violence"can carry a pandemic just as easily as an MS 13 member

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2014, at 6:42 PM, jozmat12 wrote:

    I thank Obama, for the Obama care, I had a part time job which gave part time health benefits, now they do not. He brought down the hours to 28 hours and you will be considered a full timer, now part timers, get under 28 hours so the companies don't have to paid for benefits. Yet he keep sending money to all this countries and wants to allow more people in the USA. He is bringing this nation down so fast that I can't not believe it. No more middle class, is the rich and the poor. He should be taking care of the people here first and then everyone else. If people don't have jobs, how are they going to pay taxes and how is the nations going to survive. Oh and I cannot afford to have health benefits on a part time job.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2014, at 8:46 PM, joker831 wrote:

    You really have to ask what's behind it? How about employers wanting to pay next to nothing, a VERY long list of essential job duties followed by the blanket statement 'other duties as assigned', they want $20 worth of work an hour out of someone they are willing to pay $8 an hour, they don't care about you or your family. That's a nice start. Then there is the statement 'Yes, it looks like you have a LOT of experience in this field, but, seeing as you don't currently hold a degree in underwater basket weaving I'm afraid that we feel you just would not be a good fit.' It's all about the money. Period. Plain and simple. End of story. I am so thankful that I retired 15 years ago. Yep, I was done at age 35. I worked my butt off and saved every dime I could because I saw how the work place was evolving. It's all a complete big load of crap now. I don't miss it. Not one bit. The only useful advice I can give anyone is to work your butt off. Save as much as you can. Invest in long term and stable investments that will actually give you a return on your money. 15 to 20 years of actual work and you will be retired. Think twice about buying a snazzy new car or the latest iphone piece of techno garbage. Save, invest, and reap your reward when the time comes. Also move all of your money out of the US as soon as possible. Not all at once. Little by little. Why would you want to pay taxes on money that you saved?

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2014, at 9:45 PM, quasimodo007 wrote:

    The EVIL Anti union/hourly GoP congress who helps and Protects their GReedy MAFIA Privilege CROOKS of wall street get huge billions dollars TAX break while Outsourcing Uion/Hourly US Jobs to Canada, Mexico, Brazil China ,and Viet Nam to promote Slave Labor and slave Wages while these USO call US Corporation are Stock piling over a TRILLIONS dollars in CASH Reserves in oversea OFF Shore Accounts TAX Free.

  • Report this Comment On August 11, 2014, at 6:58 AM, Mathman6577 wrote:

    No mention of what the Obama administration did to contribute to the problem? Or Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, and Nancy Pelosi?

    I think the current state of affairs is beyond a simple legislative fix. It will take many years to undo what the Obama administration and the Congress that served during 2009 - 2011 did to this country, if it can be fixed at all. More articles like this will only prolong the suffering.

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