|Growing Number of Part-Time Workers is Bad for American Economy|
By Ashton Ellis
Wednesday, March 13 2013
The findings of a recent Gallup poll show that one-in-five American workers are now employed part-time, the result of a steady three-year increase. The results signal not just a shift in the labor market, but the combined effects of several bad Obama policies that distort job growth.
Overall, Gallup’s survey found that part-time workers are now 20.6 percent of the labor force, up from 19.5 percent in February 2012, and 19.1 percent in February 2010.
The surge in part-time jobs is a bad omen for the American economy. Pay is substantially less than similar full-time work, and benefits like health and retirement coverage are scarce or nonexistent. Those who work part-time find it difficult to support themselves financially, let alone form families. Moreover, part-time workers tend to get less work experience, making it harder for them to transition to higher paying jobs.
As Gallup’s top economist puts it, “As a result, having an increasing number of part-time jobs is not a solid foundation for economic growth because such jobs limit the ability of Americans who have them to form new households and buy all the things associated with family formation,” such as a house, cars and a host of other consumer products.
One of the factors contributing to the rise in part-time work is the Treasury Department’s June 30 deadline that gives employers until then to declare staffing levels for the 2014 launch of ObamaCare exchanges. Any business with more than 50 full-time employees will be required to meet all of the health law’s expensive new coverage mandates, or face fines up to $2,000 per employee.
A way to avoid the dilemma is to reduce staff and outsource as much work as possible to independent contractors. This approach is transforming knowledge-based industries like law. Ten years ago, firms were able to absorb the thousands of law school graduates every year. Now, many newly licensed lawyers are being funneled into perpetual independent contract work as firms look for ways to decrease overhead.
Another option is to scale back hours so that previously full-time employees log just under 30 hours per week, the threshold to qualify for coverage under ObamaCare. One Wendy’s fast food franchisee has already announced plans to implement this strategy, converting 300 full-time jobs into part-time positions. So too are colleges and universities. Just one community college district in Ohio recently reclassified 400 full-time positions as part-time. Many other employers in service-oriented industries are following suit.
Of course, ObamaCare isn’t the only factor pushing 20 percent of the labor force into part-time status.
It’s also a demand for greater productivity. With businesses tightening their belts during the Great Recession, there are now many more workers than jobs on the market. Those that have full-time jobs with benefits produce more with, and sometimes for, less. For many workers, the economic downturn also created an opening for automation and other efficiency-gaining technologies to replace people.
Simply put, American workers in just about every industry are facing the very real prospect of working harder, longer and smarter for less pay and benefits well into the foreseeable future.
But don’t worry, says President Obama. He’ll provide all the “free” health care, universal pre-kindergarten, raises in the minimum wage, contraceptives and higher education you’ll be unable to afford in his over-regulated, underpaid economy.
If the trend of part-time work continues to grow, it’s not hard to imagine a father of a family working two jobs, each at 30-hours-a-week without benefits, and still unable to make ends meet. Though the federal government will gladly step in to subsidize the shortfall, millions of Americans don’t want a sixty-hour work week that qualifies for welfare.
Yet that’s exactly the kind of America that’s coming thanks to an Obama Administration whose only answer to a transformed and transforming labor market is to increase government intervention, and in the process penalize full-time employment.
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