The dark side of America’s reluctant part-time workers – Quentin Fottrell

Many part-time workers were left behind by the economic recovery.

Nearly half of the 26.5 million Americans (46%) who work part-time are desperate to work full-time, according to a new report — “A Tale of Two Workforces: The Benefits and Burdens of Working Part Time” — by Rutgers University. The vast majority of the nation’s 26 million part-time workers — from college students working in coffee shops between classes to freelance computer software designers working for multinationals — receive no benefits beyond their paychecks and almost one-third say their financial condition is flat out poor.

Nearly one-in-five American workers is employed in a part-time job, logging fewer than 35 hours a week. Some 20 million people, known as voluntary part-time workers, do so to supplement their income, pursue an education, or care for children, but another 6.5 million Americans, so-called involuntary part-time employees, want a full-time job but can’t find one. The persistence of such large numbers of involuntary part-time workers is an indicator of underlying weaknesses in the U.S. labor market six years since the beginning of the economic recovery, the study found.

These part-time workers are also divided along ethnic lines. Voluntary part-time workers are disproportionately white, while involuntary part-time workers are disproportionately from a minority, especially Hispanic. Although white Americans make up around 63% of the general population, they comprise 72% of voluntary part-time workers, and just 54% of involuntary ones. Hispanics account for 23% of involuntary part-time workers, and African-Americans account for another 15%, for a total of 38%.

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