Jobs Reports: U.S. Turning Into a Part-time Worker Economy

By:  Bob Adelmann
08/06/2013
       
Jobs Reports: U.S. Turning Into a Part-time Worker Economy

The gradual conversion of the American economy into one of part-time workers continues apace. The latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms it.

When the two-part employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) was issued on Friday, the news was modestly positive: From its business “establishment” data it noted that employment increased by 162,000, a little less than expected but not far from the average of 175,000 new jobs a month that the economy has been generating for the last three months. The estimates for May and June were revised downward slightly, but July’s numbers were enough to push down the unemployment rate from 7.6 percent to 7.4 percent. The BLS reported also that the number of unemployed persons has dropped by 1.2 million over the last 12 months while the unemployment rate has come down from 8.2 percent to 7.4 percent in that same time period.

There was further good news: Unemployment rates for adult women (at 6.5 percent) and blacks (at 12.6 percent) declined in July while the number of “long-term” unemployed (jobless for 27 weeks or more) has declined by almost one million since July 2012.

Reuters was guardedly optimistic, noting that the labor force shrank during the month, “robbing some of the luster from the decline in the unemployment rate [but the report] reinforces the view that the job market is inching [its way] toward recovery.”

This optimism was not shared by Peter Morici, professor at the University of Maryland, who observed:

The economy is firing on three cylinders instead of six….

Many of those [being hired] are part-timers. Increasingly Americans are [being] relegated to a contingent work force where they work temp jobs, part-time jobs….

[Businesses] are finding health insurance too expensive to provide [full-time] employees and if they cut down to part-time workers, turning three jobs into four, they avoid all that….

That’s what’s happening. Some folks will have to work two jobs to make ends meet, and they still don’t get healthcare. 

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