Part-Time Work in Recession and Recovery
Jan 26, 2011
A newly-published presentation by CLASP senior policy analyst Elizabeth Lower-Basch explores the circumstances of part-time workers, the reasons for part-time work, and what has happened to part-time work during the recession. She also considers the implications of part-time work for the Unemployment Insurance and Workforce Investment Act systems.
Workers can be employed part-time because of economic conditions, the nature of the job, or the worker's needs and preferences. Involuntary part-time employment typically tracks the unemployment rate, and has risen sharply during the recession. Some jobs, such as waitresses or retail clerks, are also designed to be part-time regardless of the economic climate. Even in recession, most part-time workers have chosen such jobs, for reasons such as school or training, family obligations or partial retirement. However, these workers pay a heavy price for part-time work, including lower wages and fewer benefits, such as paid sick days, health insurance, or pensions.
Given that nearly one in five workers are employed part-time, workforce agencies should consider it part of their mission to help part-time workers find good jobs, including job development aimed at high quality part-time jobs.