Confirmed: Increase in Part-Time Work is Long-Term Shift in Corporate Strategy

Confirmed: Increase in Part-Time Work is Long-Term Shift in Corporate Strategy

A new report by the Economic Policy Institute confirms that there has been a structural change in low wage employment toward part-time work. This is apart from cyclical changes brought about by normal business cycles or even the Great Recession. 

The number of involuntary part-time workers shot up from 4.5 to 9 million during the Great Recession. Although the current levels are 6 million–an improvement from the 9 million during the Great Recession–we have not returned to pre-recession levels. The report states that employers are using part-time work as a cost saving strategy by “systematically creating part-time jobs, with workers filling those jobs despite wanting full-time work.”

Beyond the problem of inadequate income, there are indirect costs to the worker, including a diminished career trajectory, nonexistent healthcare and retirement benefits, and inadequate time for parenting.

Involuntary part-time work means that workers have to rely on the safety net or hold multiple part-time jobs, the difficulty of which is compounded by the rising rents in core cities, which has moved lower income families to inner ring suburbs, where transportation tends to be a patchwork. 

CLiME previously published a paper detailing both the private and public costs of this practice, which is most prevalent in retail, leisure and hospitality industries, where minority female workers are concentrated.

Costs include the expense of public benefits to cover the shortfall when employers provide inadequate wages, reduced economic activity from low purchasing power, and intergenerational poverty. 

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