EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 24, 2013

Workers can't get full-time jobs

America's part-time problem

By John Toole
jtoole@eagletribune.com

---- — The economic downturn left some American workers stuck in part-time jobs, a new report from the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire says.

“Part-time employment increased dramatically during the recent recession for both men and women,” researcher Rebecca Glauber said in the report.

Their inability to get full-time work may be a concern for both workers and employers, as well as people worried about long-term productivity and efficiency of the economy, she said.

Glauber’s report showed the largest five-year increase for involuntary part-time employment since the 1970s between 2007 and 2012.

The involuntary employment rate doubled for both men and women.

The rate shot up from 3.6 to 7.8 percent for women, while surging from 2.4 to 5.9 percent for men.

The study did not break down numbers state by state.

The report also said involuntary part-time employment is a key factor in poverty. One in four such workers were deemed to be living in poverty.

Involuntary part-time employment is concentrated among relatively disadvantaged groups including African Americans, Hispanics, recent immigrants and high-school dropouts, Glauber wrote.

The report defines involuntary part-time employment as someone working fewer than 35 hours because full-time work is unavailable.

The Carsey study looked at data from the Current Population Survey, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau.

“The statistics are distressing, but I’m not terribly surprised,” economist Dennis Delay of the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies in Concord said.

Economists have been discussing the situation for a while, but the Carsey report attempts to quantify the problem, he said.

Delay conceded it’s difficult to say whether the situation will turn around to pre-2007 levels.

“Maybe it’s the new normal,” he said.

New Hampshire’s unemployment rate, another measure of the economic recovery, stood at 5.2 percent in June, compared to 7.6 percent nationally, Delay said.

“That still is a high number,” he said.

Typically for New Hampshire following recessions since the 1970s, economists would expect to see unemployment around 3.5 percent at this point, Delay said.

“There is no quick fix,” said Russ Thibeault, president of Laconia-based Applied Economic Research Inc.

“The world has changed and America’s dominant position in the world has been weakened,” Thibeault said. “It will take time to have the kind of economy we had in, say, the 1990s.”