Lynn Parramore: Half Lives – Why the Part-time Economy Is Bad for Everyone

By Lynn Parramore, a senior editor at Alternet. Cross posted from Alternet

Why is a whole job getting harder to find every day in America?

Ever since the financial crash, a growing number of people have been forced to take part-time gigs when what they really want is something increasingly out of reach: solid, full-time employment. Between late 2007 and May 2013, the number of part-timers jumped from 24.7 million to 27.5 million. A 2013 Gallup poll shows that one in every five workers is now part-time. Some folks, like students, may work part-time because they want to. Nothing wrong with that. But involuntary part-time employment is not a choice, it’s a burden. Often it means substandard jobs with crazy schedules that don’t pay nearly enough. According to the Labor Department, as many as a third of all part-timers fall into the involuntary category.

There are signs that their ranks are likely to swell.  

Part-Time Nation

Employers have found a new excuse to drop full-time employees to part-time status: the Affordable Care Act. Diane Stafford of the Kansas City Star looks at a trend called the “Obamadodge,” in which bosses around the country, including Regal Entertainment Group, franchise owners of Five Guys, Applebee’s and Denny’s, and the owner of Papa John’s pizza chain, have announced plans to side-step new requirements that businesses with over 50 full-time-equivalent employees offer their full-time workers access to a qualified healthcare plan or pay a penalty.

The healthcare law defines a full-time employee as anyone working more than 30 hours a week, so the boss simply cuts workers' hours and hires additional part-time staff to make up the difference. Stafford notes that as many as 2.3 million workers across the country are at high risk of having their hours slashed to below the 30-hour mark.

Another rising trend is employers changing part-time workers’ schedules from week to week. According to a New York Times report, this manuever is becoming commonplace in the American retail and hospitality industries. Bosses use sophisticaled software to track the flow of customers and purchasing patterns in stores, which allows managers to assign just enough employees to handle the anticipated demand. Instead of five- or six-hour shifts, workers get two- or three-hour shifts. They are often called in at the last minute, and have no way of predicting which days they’ll be working.

At Jamba Juice, for example, employers at Manhattan’s popular smoothie shop use weather forecasts and temperature checks to make micro-adjustments to weekly schedule. If the weather tomorrow is hot, the boss knows that more customers are likely to come in for a cool drink, so more employees will be called in for certain shifts. The managers of clothing stores use different variables to estimate shopping patterns. As with so many trends that negatively impact workers, Walmart is cited as a pioneer in the heavy reliance on part-time workers and the penalizing of those who have difficulty adjusting schedules.

The Times notes that according to a 2011 survey by the City University of New York, half of retail workers in New York City were part-time, and only 10 percent of part-timers had a set schedule week to week. One out of five said they had to be available for call-in shifts either all or most of the time. Obviously, single mothers and others who can’t shift schedules at the drop of a hat, like students trying to take classes, suffer miserably under the new paradigm.

The Price of Part-time

Part-time workers are far more likely to be paid minimum wage than full-time workers (13 percent v. 2 percent). As they struggle to make ends meet, many will take on multiple part-time jobs to compensate for indadequate hours and pay. Involuntary part-time employment stigmatizes workers, attacking their self-esteem and diminishing their expectations for the future. It disproportionately impacts women, younger workers and minorities. Forced part-time workers share far less than full-timers in America’s economic gains. Their purchasing power drops, as does their standard of living. Companies tend to invest less in training part-time employees, treating them like replacable widgets. They get less work experience, which makes it harder for them to transition to higher paying jobs down the line.

In the past, research on employment usually focused on only two categories of people: the employed and the unemployed. But in the last decade or so, more studies have devoted attention to the plight of the forced part-time worker and the underemployed. The findings are alarming.

The American Psychological Association reports a variety of ailments associated with underemployment, including depression, anxiety, psychosomatic symptoms, low subjective well-being and poor self-esteem. Researchers have found that full-time work is critical not only to the mental well-being of workers, but to their physical health as well. An increase in chronic disease is but one of the ways that forced part-time workers suffer.

The story of Stacy H. is typical. She was fired from her job as an educator after 12 years and found part-time employment at a university center. Working 30 hours a week, her rate of pay was actually higher than her previous full-time job, but when she factored in the loss of benefits, including paid time off and employer subsidized health insurance, her net earning had dropped.

Stacy lives in Massachusetts, and since health insurance is mandated, she chose the family plan with the lowest premium. Even so, coming up with nearly $1,000 per month is a stretch, and her family earns too much to qualify for any subsidized plans. Her plan has a high deductible, so Stacy’s family gets hit with medical expenses they’d never had to pay in the past. “My recent followup to my PCP to check on my blood pressure after my annual physical in February will only be partially covered by our plan,” wrote Stacy in an email. “I can only imagine what our out-of-pocket expense will be for my son's cardiology checkup. Wonder why my blood pressure is elevated….”

As Stacy’s case shows, involuntary part-time employment not only hurts individuals, it puts a strain on families and can lead to negative effects on children, including increased stress, substance abuse, impaired relationships and a host of other ills. Communities suffer, too, as a result of the growing income inequalities that increased part-time employment tends to produce. People feel a keener sense of unfairness, despair and various kinds of tensions that fray the bonds between neighbors.

On a macroeconomic level, plenty of negative effects pile up when people face the kind of insecurity that forced part-time work often brings. They may squirrel away every penny to cover surprise medical expenses, for example, which hinders the whole economy. Econ 101 tells us that when people don't have money to spend, businesses can’t sell products and services. Part-time workers become increasingly dependent on public services, which strains state and municipal budgets.

What To Do?

The involuntary part-time trend is ultimately bad for the economy as a whole, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Many economists who follow the neoclassical school that has dominated the national conversation since the 1980s pretend that the trend is natural and inevitable, and that any intervention is useless or worse. The truth is that economic systems don’t operate by immutable “laws” like gravity. Economics is not like physics. Human beings work together and make decisions that shape our economic destiny. We can make good decisions and bad decisions.

We can decide to fund job training and support labor unions that are able to bargain for things like advanced notification of schedules and other protections. We can focus on job creation rather than misguided deficit reduction and austerity. We can support research on the effects, both social and economic, of increased involuntary part-time employment, and enact policies that discourage companies from shifting the burden of market fluctuations onto the backs of workers.

Or we can move increasingly to a paradigm of gross inequality, indentured servitude, monopolistic conditions, a decimated middle-class, increased poverty, and social unrest.

Let’s not kid ourselves: We need a robust political movement that is keenly focused on reversing these trends as well as a fundamental shift in the way we approach economic questions. We need to remember that what’s good for workers is good for the economy, and that you can’t built a solid economic foundation — or a stable society — on permanent job insecurity.

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  1. psychohistorian

    Our discussion needs to get to the basics of what contributions a human should make to be supported by society and the associated responsibilities.

    The term work makes no sense in a world where there are not jobs for all that seek them. And the amount of work needed is not going to get better as consumption evolves to “austerity norms”.

    Man’s inhumanity to man………in living color.

  2. Hugh

    Just for general information: The actual (unadjusted) number of involuntary part time workers in May was 7.618 million. The BLS further splits this number into those who are working part time due to slack work or adverse business conditions (4.604 million) and those who only could find part time work (2.727 million). [The numbers do not sum.] The number of voluntary part timers was 19.315 million.

    Involuntary part time workers increased markedly after the 2008 meltdown. Since then those due to slack work have decreased somewhat while those who could only find part time work have increased somewhat. Voluntary part time workers dropped after the meltdown, but have begun to trend back upward.

    As I always say it is about the definitions. The BLS in its tables distinguishes between part time workers for economic and noneconomic reasons, but in its reports it uses the term “involuntary” part time worker. This is important because if we look at the definitions of part time for economic and non-economic reasons in the tables, we see that an economic reason is one that is dictated by businesses or the business situation.

    [Part time for economic reasons] Refers to those who worked 1 to 34 hours during the reference week for an economic reason such as slack work or unfavorable business conditions, inability to find full-time work, or seasonal declines in demand

    On the other hand, a noneconomic reason results from the choice of the worker.

    [Part time for noneconomic reasons] Refers to persons who usually work part time for noneconomic reasons such as childcare problems, family or personal obligations, school or training, retirement or Social Security limits on earnings, and other reasons. This excludes persons who usually work full time but worked only 1 to 34 hours during the reference week for reasons such as vacations, holidays, illness, and bad weather.

    What we should understand is that most of these “noneconomic” reasons are, in fact, driven by the overall condition of the economy, but more importantly still, their predicates are not voluntary. One is 65 or one has children. One can choose to have children, but once one has them, one can not choose not to have them. Childcare is not voluntary.

    And even if one is defined as a voluntary part timer, it does not preclude the kinds of employer abuse Parramore describes.

    1. Observer

      What about a new category: involuntary full time employment. I recently spoke with a nurse who said, “I used to be an engineer, but there aren’t any jobs for engineers anymore. We shipped them all overseas.” He went back to school and now makes half what he used to, with a new set of student loan payments. Technically, he’s not underemployed in his new field and he works full time. But it wasn’t a voluntary choice; he just did what he had to do to stay working.

      1. jrs

        If you work full-time (or more) and would prefer to work part-time is it involuntary full-time employment? I’d take the pay cut for more time and in fact I get the impression a lot of well paid people would.

        1. Observer

          I take your point: He was an engineer, so cry me a river. I was just trying to illustrate that there is a downward adjustment happening within full time employment as well as part time employment, as a perspective on Hugh’s point that employment trends are driven by the overall condition of the economy and therefore are not necessarily voluntary. That’s not say you can’t make a voluntary personal choice to work fewer hours at a pay cut, I just don’t think that’s a trend right now.

  3. jake chase

    It is becoming increasingly clear that what is characterized as the “unemployment problem” is largely a matter of human redundancy in our business mad society. Technology marches on and business “needs” fewer and fewer people, because the only purpose of business is private gain, not public welfare. It is time to consider the obligation of those who manage to capture all the gains from this “productivity” revolution to support the people it is leaving behind. There is plenty of socially useful work these redundant people can be organized to do, but the problem is the work just isn’t profitable for those who might otherwise be tempted to do the organizing.

    We will have to levy charges on the rich for this purpose sooner or later, because the only alternative will become a national chain of concentration camps and the people left outside are unlikely to need enough license plates to keep those inside “fully employed”.

  4. Joe Corall

    Who doesn’t want to work less?

    I think the issue raised in this article is misguided. Working less is a good thing! It’s proper compensation that’s the issue. The negatives of involuntary part-time work is just a patch of rough road we’re hitting. It gets better.

    We shouldn’t be striving for more hours. We just need compensation to reflect the true worth human labor brings to a company. Information/analytics afforded by technology allows a company to staff their locations more efficiently (e.g. Jamba Juice watching the weather). This saves the staff the boredom of a “slow day”, and saves the company wasted resources. The result? Technology lets us work less and get more from it. This is progress! The cash saved just needs to be passed down to the employee. This will happen, it’s an inevitability.

    Businesses will find their hourly wage + hours offered isn’t sustainable, and their employees will be looking for work elsewhere. Companies will then be forced to raise the wage to stop the constant churning of new labor. New-hire training is a cost, too! They’ll see that profit-hit if they can think outside-of-the-xlsx.

    Granted, in the meantime there are real families caught in the middle of this transitionary period, which means solutions are needed QUICK. So, please allow me to add one more answer to the last question in this article: “What To Do?”.

    Tip. Heavily. Why stop at 20%? Go 50%, 100% if you can. Until the magic formula is realized where hourly compensation accurately reflects the actual worth labor affords, WE ALL will need to make up the difference.

    1. marty

      “Companies will then be forced to raise the wage to stop the constant churning of new labor. New-hire training is a cost, too! They’ll see that profit-hit if they can think outside-of-the-xlsx.”

      Maybe some say, but it sure doesn’t look like it around here. I’m in Florida and several times a year, the State Employment site is filled with page after page after page of job postings from all the low-wage, part-time, no set schedule employers: McDonalds, Dollar General, Family Dollar, Kangaroo Express, RaceTrac, etc.

      Apparently, the constant cycling in and out of part-time workers is still a viable strategy for them.

      1. Joe Corall

        You’re 100% correct it still is a viable option for some. But I really don’t think that’s going to be the case for very long.

        This scenario is not far away:

        I own a 3D Printer that can create all the common house hold items I need. It, along with my entire home, is powered by my algae farm. I could join a co-op in my city/town for all my food needs. Suddenly technology has sufficiently supplemented my need for work. I just need some disposable income for entertainment (and possibly rent). Suddenly I’m not so desperate for cash…

        Too idyllic? Possibly. Unrealistic? Certainly not. We can see all three technologies/ideas in “real world” use at this very moment. The price just needs to come down (3D printer are still a few grand), and distribution needs to be worked out (how to get an algae farm up and running in each home).

        In the reality described above, full-employment is irrelevant and the idea of low-wage is absurd. Not really needing a job for survival certainly helps when it comes time for your salary negotiation.

        And as I alluded to in my first post, we’re still getting there. How we smoothly transition is a tough problem to solve…

        1. A Real Black Person

          “I own a 3D Printer that can create all the common house hold items I need. It, along with my entire home, is powered by my algae farm. I could join a co-op in my city/town for all my food needs. Suddenly technology has sufficiently supplemented my need for work. I just need some disposable income for entertainment (and possibly rent). Suddenly I’m not so desperate for cash…”

          . 3D printing is a prototyping device. It can not make finished products yet.
          It’s unproven that oil extracted from algae farms can be produced in sufficient quantity to match an typical household’s use of fossil fuels for energy.

          “Not really needing a job for survival certainly helps when it comes time for your salary negotiation.”

          It must nice being independently wealthy. Owning and using inefficient and barely useful tools still in development, such as a 3d printer and an algae farm shows that you can afford to buy expensive things that achieve almost nothing.
          Just don’t try and fool me about being self sufficient.

    2. Montanamaven

      Well put. I was looking for a way to describe Ms. Parramore’s piece. “Misguided” is probably a good term. We need to guide the discussion in the direction you go. We need more leisure time, not less. But in order to have that, we need to engage in mutual aid. We need a basic living wage with inexpensive health care (a national health care system) and a good national pension (Germans, for example, get about 67% in retirement of what they made while working instead of our paltry social security).
      I guess we need to guide the discussion in the direction about why capitalism sucks. It is meant to exploit and extract/wring money out of anybody and everybody. Here in the U.S. it is turning us back into a colony as we export what’s left of our natural resources. If the elites won’t engage in “mutual” aid, we have to take it from them as part of a transition to dealing with the collapse.

      But the whole idea of “tipping” is crazy. They don’t tip in Europe. A waiter is a professional. He/She gets paid a good wage. You don’t have to subsidize the employer by tipping. Why do we have to do that here? Crazy.

    3. Hugh

      Waiting for the invisible hand to deliver up good wages, better hours, and, who knows, a pony falls into the same general category as waiting for Godot, waiting for the Second Coming, waiting for a train that doesn’t come, and, of course, waiting for our ruling classes to recognize their errors and change their ways.

      1. jrs

        It definitely don’t think it will happen automatically but it could happen: via a labor movement, via employee owned businesses, or via a guaranteed national income. Or all 3.

      2. Joe Corall

        Who’s waiting? You can start tipping excessively any time.

        It sounds like waiting for legislation to enforce your worldview is more your style. Now that’s something worth waiting for!

        1. Hugh

          The present system is a kleptocracy. Seeking to legislate within its thoroughly corrupt framework or reform it is futile. I am working to overthrow it. That takes more than a few tips.

          1. Joe Corall

            I hope you’re trollin.

            But if not…

            Pray tell how everyone’s life will be improved after your goals are met? Actually. Never mind that. I’m more interested in hearing about your transition plan that will occur after you “dismantle the kleptocracy” and before you install your new Government 2.0… I hope no one gets hungry in the process! Or is that just collateral damage? Gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet. Trust in Hugh! He’ll guide us true!

            Also, how are you keeping “the powers that be” from installing their version 2.0? Or maybe you think there’s no chance for subversion to enter into the volatile state that will ensue after your ideas come to fruition. I’m sure you have that all worked out. Talk about utopian!

          2. Hugh

            Your plan to redress wage inequality is to increase tipping. Maybe your next great idea will be to give the serfs a day off. You seem to have no knowledge of economics or politics nor the history of this country over the last 40 years so it isn’t really much of a surprise that you have no awareness of the gravity of the situation the country is in.

            You are apparently new to this site so welcome aboard, but do not expect us to repeat for you the contents of what is now a years long conversation. Revolution and social disruption are as inevitable under the current arrangements as climate change. What some of us have been doing is proposing routes that do not lead to bloody chaos and repression. If this is too difficult for you, by all means go back to your tips and lattes.

          3. Joe Corall

            Tipping isn’t a “plan”, it’s something that can help in the short term. Something that has immediate results helping those in a tough situation. Notice in my original post I said “let me ADD another answer to the question ‘What to Do'”. I said nothing about replacing/forgetting any answers offered in the article that touch on more long-term solutions.

            I’ve been following this blog for a few years now. Not a daily devotee by any means. But I usually get turned away by bitterness in the comments, and doom-and-gloom in the subject line. I realize it very well may be naiveness that doesn’t allow me to see the gravity of the situation, but it also may be your own fear and self aggrandizement that sees our current predicament as anything more significant/pressing than any other period in human history.

            I ask you a question and I just get more condescension. No answers. I guess I should have known better since some weird form of intellectual posturing/dismissal is how you decided to start this conversation…

            You may want to think about ways to communicate your message that don’t include condescension and arrogance. Or perhaps you feel being an asshole is the best way to get a populist message out?

            1. A Real Black Person

              “I’ve been following this blog for a few years now. Not a daily devotee by any means. But I usually get turned away by bitterness in the comments, and doom-and-gloom in the subject line.” If any of the more optimistic predictions in the past had prayer of becoming a reality, it would have happened already. We’re not heading towards a post-scarcity, post-work utopia. The opposite is happening and most of the utopian technology schemes you hear about in Popular Science or WIRED are just dreams. They are not politically and economically feasible.

  5. Ed

    One small legal change that could curb some of the abuse would be to abolish “on call” part time employment, where you work part time but can be called in for a shift at any time on short notice.

    It would still be possible for companies to have a pool of workers that they bring in as needed, and they could even be paid less than 9-5 full time workers in equivalent jobs, but these employees would be classified as full time and all the federal regulations re full time workers would apply. To be considered to be part time, a worker would have to work less than x hours per week and on a predictable schedule.

    There are lots of jobs where people are paid essentially to do nothing but be ready in case something happens.

    1. Montanamaven

      The old Hollywood studio system actually worked up to a point. Actors were on contract. They showed up to the studios and were told what film they were on. My aunt and uncle met working on a Busby Berkely musical. Then they were in western serials and the “Captain Midnight” serial. Of course now they film in states with “tax incentives” and hire local.

    2. jrs

      Good ideas. Now if only there was some way to accomplish them politically, but good ideas, employers shouldn’t own employees time unless they pay for it (maybe not even then, but I’m working within capitalism here, cut me some slack).

    3. dflickiss

      In regards to the on-call PT employment people need to learn their local laws. In many states, if an employee is on call and b/c of that unable to attend to personal business then the employer must pay wages.

  6. TomDor

    Proper tax that taxes the damaging, rent extractive part of the economy –
    Then, of course, we all need to stop pretending that we can make cash off of each other by charging more for property than what it was bought for. – speculating in land.
    Every depression and recession has it’s roots in real estate.
    Tax the rise of land values back into use for the people that created the increase in land values.
    IE: tax at 100% the increase in value of land above the rate of inflation. Tax speculative income in a similar fashion.
    un-tax income derived from actual labor and business that creates something in the real economy others will buy

  7. Susan the other

    What to do? Scrap Obamacare. Demand Single Payer. It would make a world of difference, immediately, to our economy and our confidence. Single Payer helps not only every struggling worker, it also helps employers. Yes, it is a huge psychological barrier for “capitalism” to get over. But that’s only because capitalism is the entitlement of choice for panicky morons who are in power and dictate the entitlement laws for the rest of us so they get a 20% profit out of any arrangement. This is a Reformation moment. We do not need high priests to be our intermediaries – we talk directly to god.

    1. Calgacus

      Yeah, sure. But the problem with immediately going to single payer is that it is too efficient. Get rid of our medical care waste and fraud, Big Pharma, industrial complex, and we get an instant depression, because all those federal dollars it wastes, its soft budget constraints, keep the rest of the economy afloat.

      Dean Baker likes to say that our longterm budget problems are due to excessive medical costs. But he has it backwards, thinking that deficits which cannot ever be unsustainable could be problems, while surpluses, which are never sustainable aren’t, showing that while he has his heart in the right place, and thinks he is a Keynesian, he doesn’t really understand it.

      James Galbraith analyzes things correctly. If as Baker notes, there would be longterm surpluses without the medifraud sector, then that shows the rest of the economy is austerity mad, while the thieves channeling the federal bucks to themselves are in actuality benefiting everyone else by the boost to demand incidental to their pillaging, just like the military industrial complex benefits the US economy with their endless disgusting crimes and frauds.
      When there is no full employment, efficiency is wasteful and just creates more unemployment and waste is beneficial and efficient.

      Of course the sensible thing is to have single payer and full employment, not have the US military be Murder Incorporated, etc. But that is too simple for most people, who always want hard answers, and usually get what they wish for.

      And very longterm, single payer, socialized medicine is the only thing other than a committment to full employment, a JG that would permanently kill the neoliberals (and they know this well). The deepest target of the Eurobanksterscum and their austerity attack is the national health systems.

  8. sierra7

    Do not confuse “capitalism” with real economy for the public!
    RE medical:
    As we require clean water, clean air, clean environment (until we become, “The Borg!”), so do we as a (progressive) society should have, “….non-profit health care”.
    Obamacare is nothing but another sop to an ailing, decrepit insurance industry to re-invent itself against all odds. “They” will not go down without a fight.
    But, as long as our Presidents, Congressional institutions continue to confuse “capitalism” with the true needs of a progressive society, we will continue to wallow in the ravines of mediocrity, greed, narcissism etc.

    “When Corporations Rule the World”

    The “corporate world” now rules.
    Until that changes we will continue the slide into the abyss of mediocrity.

    Revolution anyone????

  9. tyler healey

    Does anyone else think a federal law making the maximum wage $20 million would be expansionary?

    Yes, Sam Walton, you can still make $20 million a year, but the rest has to go to your employees.

  10. jrs

    “The American Psychological Association reports a variety of ailments associated with underemployment, including depression, anxiety, psychosomatic symptoms, low subjective well-being and poor self-esteem. Researchers have found that full-time work is critical not only to the mental well-being of workers, but to their physical health as well. An increase in chronic disease is but one of the ways that forced part-time workers suffer.”

    Of course none of this is caused by part-time employment, it’s caused by POVERTY. Full time work is not necessary to most people’s well-being, the way that sentence reads is just SO WRONG as if psychologists were trying to steal the completely clueless award from economists! In fact full-time work is a very detrimental to well being when most people hate thier jobs. Alienated labor is not saving anyone’s soul! But poverty is bad for mental well-being, poverty is bad for physical health. Part time work PLUS low hourly wage PLUS no benefits = poverty.

  11. NoGig

    Look HERE! (not over there!)

    Perhaps Americans ARE too stupid to keep their jobs. The magician has shown BOTH hands — yet citizens don’t even ask the most basic questions.

    The current Senate legislation was written by corporate lobbyists before wrapping in a veneer of “immigration reform”. This bill is a massive expansion in corporate OUTSOURCING — with NO meaningful worker protections. Corporations have free rein to recruit foreign workers to replace US employees. In just its first year, the number of foreign “guest workers” will INCREASE by 1.6 million.

    US software developers have already followed the dodo birds. And engineers are right behind. Shortly it will be time for full-scale corporate replacements of chemists, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, pilots, architects, doctors, accountants, economists and others.

    Open your eyes!!! If you are not actively writing your Senators and Congressmen, then you are a fool.

    NO ONE is protecting your interests. And the corporations refusing their taxes are spending hundreds of millions to spread their propaganda, divert attention and drown the voice of citizens.

    Write your Senator and Congressmen — or accept your fate. You have been warned.

    Need facts? Get a quick summary here,

    1. JCC

      I think we saw how that worked out during the Bush and Obama Bailouts. Congressmens’ and Senators’ phones and faxes rang off the hook, some of their email servers got so busy they crashed and polls across the country all said the same thing, 80% against the bailouts.

      If I remember correctly (and we all do), they voted for the Banks and Corps. What makes you think it would suddenly change now?

  12. dearieme

    “as many as a third of all part-timers fall into the involuntary category.”

    For many of us who worked full-time it was involuntary in the sense that if we had been independently wealthy we would probably have done something else. Much of life consists of choosing the lesser evil.

  13. vachon

    I am 58 years old and had worked full time my entire life. When I was laid off last year, the only jobs I could find were part time and minimum minimum wage. I to finally had take an 18-24 hour a week job and apply for food stamps. Most months I have to decide between car insurance (no public transportation here), blood pressure meds and the electric bill. To say I live in fear every day is no exaggeration.

  14. anon y'mouse

    look to the techno-utopian waiting for his 3d printer and his singularity upthread, as well as the “if I were an arab sheik..” argument.

    the toiling classes–those who work 65 hours a week and are salaried, and credentialed up the yingyang, think the rest of us are lazy because we didn’t bootstrap our way into 3 jobs and full-time nightschool to get that IT degree.

    I would say that they are being taken advantage of by this system just as much, in an inverse sort of way, as involuntary part-timers. the only reason so many of them work so long is because the corps don’t want to pay, train, or provide healthcare to a few more employees. so they force the ones they do have to work more and more.

    how about we all realize that most people do not want to endlessly lie about the house. what about a 6 hour workday? what about full time pay for part time work? what about making all of this “technological progress” pay off where it counts–quality of life?

    think about the kinds of things that people might be able to accomplish if they were home at the same time as their kids get back from school. perhaps cooking, cleaning and sewing might come back in vogue. perhaps Dad & Mom might read the paper together (ohwell, the kindle at least). heck, they might just be more inclined to tutor their own kids! or pay attention to what those kids were watching on the toob.

    ohcrap, capitalism can’t have that. got to keep those chickens running scared.

    1. A Real Black Person

      1.Social status comes from how many servants you have. It’s simply naive to think humans are going to abandon this long-recognized form of social status.

      2. As long as they can give everyone the hope of rising to the top and becoming a master, they can keep an army of servants under control. Contrary to the concern about the well-being of everyone here, most people are optimists and think a lack of success is due to a lack of effort.

  15. Samreen M

    It’s not the situation only in America but in other countries as well. Part time economy has increased tremendously. The above report shows that the era of high development has taken a sharp downward turn. Underemployment is not to be encouraged because the psychological consequences of underemployment can lead to stress and decline of family being.

  16. Samreen M

    It’s not the situation only in America but in other countries as well. Part time economy has increased tremendously. The above report shows that the era of high development has taken a sharp downward turn. Underemployment is not to be encouraged because the psychological consequences of underemployment can lead to stress and decline of family being.

  17. Bobby

    I’m not sure I follow on this, say we forced business to pay a living wage and make part time labor less hellish, that raises their costs which means either lower profits or higher prices for consumers. Fine either of those could be acceptable.

    But that makes other alternatives – like off shoring, advanced mechanization/automation, or input substitution more viable. For instance, a firm that currently employs three part time receptions to avoid having to pay for medical coverage or overtime could say rather than pay a living wage could just use VOIP and have the receptionist in India. Likewise, if waiters are too expensive or are about to unionize and raise cost, just build a conveyor belt around the perimeter of the restaurant and let customers order from an Ipad. Or you could, say stop employing sign twirlers and purchase some billboard space.

    Maybe you could try banning such practices, but in the long run automation and work migration for competitive advantage are what raises standards of living. Getting rid of a lot of coal miners by automating mining and burning mass amounts of natural gas are good things. Likewise, getting rid of all the jobs in oil and coal production by using some robots making solar panels would represent a huge leap in standards of living … even as we shed a lot of good paying full time jobs.

    I just don’t see how increased unionization or job training overcome that incentive structure. If employers want to be miserly bastards, you run into some very hard times making the jobs have better pay & work conditions without endangering what jobs there are.

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