I snagged this story a couple of days back:
Since June 2023, Americans have been increasingly employed in part-time positions, with a subsequent decline in full-time work, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The number of Americans working part-time in January grew by 96,000 compared to the previous month, while full-time employment sank by 63,000, according to the BLS. The change in the types of employment follows a trend toward part-time employment that has been increasingly exacerbated since June 2023.
The number of part-time positions has grown from 26,248,000 in June 2023 to 27,890,000, equating to a more than 1.6 million increase, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (FRED). Over that same time period, the number of workers employed full-time also dropped by over 1.6 million, from 134,787,000 to 133,133.
“Wherever possible, businesses are eliminating full-time jobs and replacing them with part-time jobs to reduce costs,” E.J. Antoni, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Many firms are also conducting ‘quiet’ layoffs, according to multiple surveys. This involves eliminating a full-time position when the occupant either quits or is fired — the person simply isn’t replaced. The drop in payrolls is the same as if you laid off those people. Meanwhile, the sectors that are still hiring are predominantly bringing on people part-time.”
If the statistics cited above are accurate, we have a causation analysis to perform. Granted that patterns in employment have been changing since the World Wars, workers’ preference has always seemed to be for full-time employment by a single employer. Stipulate for the purposes of discussion that this is still the case. What, then, would shift employers’ preferences away from full-time employment?
- Is there less work to be done? Possibly, though not uniformly; some companies are growing, even today.
- Is there a cost savings in having an army of part-timers rather than full-timers? Perhaps, though the savings from reduced benefits expenses must be measured against the loss of worker efficiency in a part-time environment.
- Does part-time employment attract more or better talent? That would come as a surprise.
- Are there any hard-to-quantify advantages? Smaller plants, perhaps?
The downsides of a part-time-heavy workforce are easier to see:
- Part-timers will be less loyal to the employer.
- In most cases, part-timers must arrive already trained.
- Full-timers and part-timers don’t collaborate as well as full-timers alone.
- Management must ensure that part-timers’ hours-commitment is being honored.
No doubt there are others. But what does the bottom line say? Would employers rather have full-timers despite the overt increment in cost? Or is there a real savings in having a heavily part-time workforce?