What Involuntary Part-Time Employment Reveals About the Economy

Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly employment report showed that the unemployment rate rose slightly, adding 315,000 jobs to the economy and wage growth slowed slightly. These are all signs that the overheated labor market that has been frustrating the Federal Reserve may be starting to cool down.

Job postings are always jam-packed with data, so I wasn’t able to cover them here last week. A full-time gig, but I can’t find it. In August, just over 4 million Americans would fall into that category.

When looking at trends in the labor market, we often look to the overall unemployment rate. But the numbers don’t tell the whole story.

“Every measure has to be pretty crude, right?” says Erica Groschen, an economist at Cornell University who once ran the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “The unemployment rate considers anyone who worked at least one hour in the reference week to be employed.”

Even if they wanted to work 40 hours full-time, they were unable to do so “because either their employer could not give them regular hours or they could not find a full-time job themselves.” Even if it wasn’t.

According to Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a measure of involuntary part-time employment is a sense of how much room there is in the labor market, or may be underfilled. gives you

“If this number is low,” says Gould — as it has been for years — “it means there are more opportunities and fewer people competing for more hours.”

Gould said this is good news for workers, who have more options and more leverage over their employers.

It shows staffing during the holiday season is not easy for some companies, said Daniel Zhao, chief economist at job site Glassdoor.

“There are many jobs that support the annual holiday season, including retail store workers, truck drivers, and warehouse workers,” he said.

Nearly one million seasonal and part-time jobs were opened last year before the holidays. “We should continue to expect these roles to be very difficult to fill,” he said this year, Zhao said.

If involuntary part-time employment starts to rise, Mr Zhao said it would be a leading indicator of an economic slowdown.

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