In March of this year, about 7.6 Million Americans were working involuntarily part-time, in that they would rather be working a full-time job instead of the part-time job they have either taken out of desperation or been forced into by their employer. These part-time jobs have fueled the 30-month economic recovery, leading to an unstable economy built on an increasingly uneven labor force.
If you factor in these part-timers, as well as people who want to work but have given up on the bleak job market, the Times points out that the actual jobless rate would be around 13.8 percent, much higher than the current rate of 7.6 percent.
"There's nothing inherently wrong with people taking part-time jobs if they want them," said Diane Swonk, an economist, told the Times. "The problem is that people are accepting part-time pay because they have no other choice."
One out of thirteen jobs is now in the food service industry, where part-time work is concentrated, an all-time high. The Times writes,
Part-time work rose rapidly in the recession and early parts of the recovery, and it has not let up much. Today, 19.1 percent of workers say they usually work part time, defined as fewer than 35 hours a week, versus 16.9 percent when the recession started.
Employers looking to hold on to large amounts of cash reserves have been reluctant to hire full-time workers, worried about the turbulent economy. On top of that, employers are trying to remain under the 50 full-time employees limit that the Affordable Care Act mandates a company must provide health care to. In response, companies like Darden Restaurants, which owns Red Lobster and Olive Garden, have considered shifting more employees to part-time work so they won't have to pay healthcare costs.
Between the fear of a weak economy (part of the fear being that it is built on part-time work) and trying to avoid providing healthcare at all costs, it seems like employers are content to commit themselves to a part-time economy, which screws, you guessed it, poor and middle class Americans.