It’s Part-Time Work or No Work for Millions of Americans

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Part-time employment seems to be a growing trend, with more people working part-time in the United States, but also in other countries. 13.5 percent of US employees were part-timers in 1968, but that number reached 20.1 percent in January, and remains close to that number now.

Part-time work can be beneficial for employees who want flexibility, want to be at home with kids part-time, or want a second job. Workers are often forced to work part-time because their companies cut hours, or they can’t find a full-time job. Companies who employ part-time workers see many advantages: Often, they don’t have to pay the workers as much or give them full (or any) benefits. Although there are some more permanent part-time jobs, many jobs are seasonal or temporary, which makes it easier for employers to part ways with the part-time employers when they need or want to.

Although part-time employment has decreased slightly in the U.S. since 2010, the numbers remain high. According to The Washington Post, in June, the number of part-time workers rose by more than one million, to 27 million workers. While we might be out of the recession, many Americans are not finding the jobs that they want, with the hours or pay that they need.

Part-time workers face many challenges, including the possibility of no health care benefits. Although this may not be such a big problem for workers who have a full-time job in addition to their part-time job, for workers who solely depend on their part-time job, the lack of benefits can be difficult. In addition, often part-time workers make less than their full-time equivalents.

They also might be more dispensable to their companies: especially workers who are hired on a temporary assignment, or seasonally, can often be let go easily. Workers who take a temporary job because they need a job, then face the prospect of finding another job much sooner than they might wish. Even part-time workers who feel that they have a fairly steady job, might not have the same responsibilities or say as other workers.

Economists have noticed, and are worried, about the amount of part-time workers in the job force. According to USA Today, if the economy is getting better, we should be seeing workers spending more hours at work, but this isn’t the case for part-timers. Experts also wonder if the Affordable Care Act is affecting how many part-time employees companies are hiring, but it’s difficult to tell for sure. Hiring part-time workers can be a way to cut costs, regardless of health insurance.

There are many advantages for companies to hire part-time employees. Advantages include the fact that hiring part-time employees can cut costs, and can allow the company to have flexibility in scheduling.

However, companies that hire many part-time workers also face potential disadvantages. Part-time workers may be less committed to their job or the company, which can lead to more turnover. Part-time workers also may have less knowledge about their job or the company because they don’t work as often and may not stay at the company for as long. So although companies can save money by hiring part-time workers, they do lose out in other ways.

Full-time work isn’t always the best situation for some workers though; part-time work is ideal for certain workers. Those who already have a full-time job, but want to have a little extra income, or pursue a passion, can benefit from part-time work. Sometimes parents want to work, but they also want to be home with their kids, and creating part-time jobs that are flexible but also challenging and rewarding, can attract very talented and intelligent workers who do not wish to work full-time. Although many part-time jobs are less desirable because they are designed for workers who have less professional training, this doesn’t have to be the case.

Part-time work isn’t just a trend in the United States. As of 2011, the average employed person in Austria worked just over twenty-seven hours per week, people worked an average of just over twenty-five hours per week in Germany, and nearly twenty-eight hours in Belgium. The job market in Japan also seems to be favoring more part-time work.

Part-time work may be a trend that’s going to develop and continue, and for some people, that isn’t a bad thing. However, for the many workers in America, and across the world, who want to work full-time, and need the benefits, the threat of part-time work steadily increasing is a serious one.

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