Earlier this month, our former California finance director, Mike Genest, drew my attention to a striking feature of the national job numbers, largely ignored by the media. This feature is the sharp spike over the past month in part-time employment.
When the national job numbers for June 2013 were released earlier this month, the focus was on the gain of 195,000 payroll jobs—above expectations. However, closer look at the employment numbers from the Census household survey shows voluntary part-time employment increased by 110,000 workers and involuntary part-time employment increased by a whopping 322,000 workers.
|National Employment Numbers: June 2013
Payroll jobs: 195,000 job gain
Involuntary Part-Time Employment: 322,000 job gain
Voluntary Part-time Employment: 110,000 job gain
Labor Force Participation Rate: 63.5%
Put another way, though the total number of jobs increased in the United States in June 2013, the number of full-time jobs actually decreased.
Part-time employment increased dramatically during the Great Recession, and has stayed high since. In January 2013, 8,226,000 workers were listed as involuntarily working part-time, meaning that they sought full time work but were unable to find it. Another 19,044,000 workers were listed as voluntarily working part-time. Part-time work is defined as less than 35 hours, though it includes many workers who are working less than 20 hours per week.
What of California numbers? Economist Paul Wessen weighs in from the Employment Development Department to note that California does not report part-time employment on a monthly basis, as does the federal government. Instead, it maintains a 12 month rolling average.
The 12 month rolling average for June 2013 showed 1,351,000 Californians involuntarily working part-time. This was up from the 1,345,000 in May 2013.
Whether the part-time explosion of the past month will continue, remains to be seen in the months ahead. As we have argued in previous postings, though, the trend toward part-time employment is not a temporary one. It is driven by globalization, technology and increased payroll costs, especially health care costs.