The San Francisco Federal Reserve has a great article titled, “What’s Behind the Increase in Part-Time Work?” During the recession and even three years post, part-time work has dramatically increased in teens, young adults and single men and women with less than a high school degree. These populations typically have lower employment in general, so these results are striking, as Greg Mankiw also mentions in his blog.
Part-time employment for selected groups, as a percentage of total employment
Note: Gray bars indicate NBER recessions.
Two possible explanations offered from the economists, Valletta and Bengali, suggest that the emergence of part-time work in these populations represents a slow recovery of old jobs rather than a permanent increase and the anticipation of the 30-hour cutoff for health care benefits for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010. If it is believed that most of the effect comes from the Affordable Care Act, then it will be interesting to see whether part-time work will continue to increase now that there is a delay in the ACA until January 1, 2015. I think both explanations are plausible, but perhaps this phenomena may also represent a cultural change as well–that more single men and woman and teens may be going back to school part time and working part-time to cover expenses. Labor force participation rates in ages 16-24 are low indicating that the shift to more education and training may be here to stay and that this increase in part-time work may be permanent.
Part-time employment as a share of total employment