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Michael Bernick
Adjunct Fellow; Counsel to Sedgwick LLP; former Director, California Employment Development Department
California and Human Capital and Labor
Michael Bernick, the former director of the California labor department, the Employment Development Department (EDD), joined the Milken Institute in February 2004, as a research fellow, focusing on job creation and workforce development projects.
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What underlies the explosion in part-time employment?
By: Michael Bernick
July 24, 2013
   
   

Earlier this month, former California finance director Mike Genest drew my attention to a striking feature of the national job numbers, one thataEUR(TM)s been largely ignored by the media: 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 jobsaEUR"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.

Whether the part-time explosion of the past month will continue remains to be seen. As IaEUR(TM)ve argued in the past, 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.

A version of this post originally appeared on the blog Fox & Hounds on July 24, 2013.

Michael Bernick is former California Employment Development Department Director and a Milken Institute Fellow.