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Part-Time Work – Part-Time or Permanent?

November 23, 2014
Plain English Version

Part-time workFor many people, part-time work is a good thing. They do not want to work full-time.

For many people who hold two or three part-time jobs, it is not a good thing.

The recession of 2008 changed the landscape for workers. Observers are asking about why the number of part-time jobs is rising. Will part-time workers become future full-time workers or will future low-wage jobs remain part-time?

The fact is that the number of workers employed part-time has risen dramatically. It is mostly true in the service and hospitality industries. It is less so in manufacturing.

It is also true that part-time employment is different. Work schedules are not predictable. Workers have to be almost “on call.” They have to be available when stores are busy, and then they are released when stores are not. Benefits are nowhere as good as for full-time workers.

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) says that employers with 50 full-time workers or more will have to offer health coverage. However, only those workers who put in at least 30 hours a week must be covered. For companies, not having to pay for health coverage is one reason to employ part-time workers.

However, nobody knows if this is really happening. Experts say that, in this climate of uncertainty, there are good business reasons not to hire full-time workers.

Advocates for workers point to changes in technology. New software lets managers plan shifts based on business activities.

Many are “involuntary” part-time workers who cannot find full-time work.

Some employers are trying to improve part-time work. For example, Ikea workers are assured a minimum number of hours every week. Ikea is also raising the salaries of all part-time workers by 17 percent in 2015.

The jury is out on the future of part-time workers. Will their numbers be reduced to the numbers before the recession? Most economists think the economy is in the middle of deciding.

Source: The Wall Street Journal November 12, 2014

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