Tags: Involuntary | part time | workers | labor

Companies Increasingly Rely on Involuntary Part-Time Workers

By    |   Thursday, 05 Dec 2013 12:36 PM

In yet another sign of the labor market's weakness, companies are turning more and more to involuntary part-time workers.

These are people who seek a full-time job but can't find one and people who have suffered a reduction in hours from full-time.

Their number has surged 88 percent to 8.1 million as of October from 4.3 million six years earlier, prior to the Great Recession, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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"Using part-time workers increases flexibility and gives companies an ability to adjust to changing business conditions," Aparna Mathur, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute, told CNBC.

"Unless we see economic conditions improving, I think this trend will continue."

But Carrie Gleason, executive director of the Retail Action Project (RAP), sees no justice in the trend. "It's an extremely abusive and unfair practice," she told CNBC. "Part-time workers' hours are constantly changing—and not just weekly, but sometimes on a daily basis."

Relying on part-timers can hurt businesses too, says Tita Gray, a lecturer at San Diego State University's business school.

"You have high turnover costs and you don't build employee loyalty," she told CNBC.

November jobs data are due Friday. A Bloomberg survey of economists produced a median forecast of a 185,000 gain in November payrolls and a dip in the unemployment rate to 7.2 percent from 7.3 percent in October.

After Thursday's news that jobless claims fell 7.1 percent to 298,000 in the week ended Nov. 30, Brian Jones, senior U.S. economist at Societe Generale in New York, struck an upbeat note.

"The labor market continues to improve," he told Bloomberg. "Not only is the rate of layoffs slowing precipitously, more people are finding work."

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In yet another sign of the labor market's weakness, companies are turning more and more to involuntary part-time workers.
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Thursday, 05 Dec 2013 12:36 PM
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