If you're having trouble looking for work, the problem might be that you're looking for too much of it. The latest report from the Department of Labor, released last Friday, shows growth in one specific subsection of the job market: part-time hires. More and more, employers are displaying hesitation in making new full-time hires, perhaps because of overriding costs of benefits and healthcare.
The fallout isn't hard to see: while the amount of full-time hires has been consistently dropping, a collective national reliance on freelancers, temp workers, and part-timers is skyrocketing. According to The Associated Press, over 12 percent of American jobs are held by of such workers. And many economists warn that this trend could have a lasting negative impact on the market.
A lack of confidence
"[Workers are] willing to entertain employment possibilities that they would not have six or seven years ago," said Todd Miller, CEO of the software company Gwabbit, when speaking to the AP.
He later explained one-third of his twenty employees are temporary, and another third are independent contractors. Miller says he would consider using more permanent employees under different circumstances, but he "doesn't have tremendous confidence in this economy."
"As you have more and more costs associated with full-time workers in terms of healthcare or other costs, employers look for alternative ways to reduce costs," explained Michael Bernick, former California Employment Development Department director, while speaking to the Los Angeles Times. "One way is on-demand and part-time work."
A worldwide dilemma
Despite the role of new domestic healthcare policies in increasing part-time hires, this isn't a uniquely American predicament. A recently released study from the Timewise Foundation shows that, for various reasons, over 25 percent of the British workforce is working less than 30 hours a week. And more than 75 percent of that part-time work force feels that they have "traded" their talents and capabilities away for less-demanding jobs that offer less pay amid increased flexibility.
"Millions are hitting a wall at key points in their careers, when they want to progress or move to a new role," Karen Mattinson, co-founder of the foundation, told The Guardian. She feels that the move employers and employees are making toward part-time arrangements is part of a "fundamental shift."
Meanwhile, in America, much of the reliance on part-time work is likely a fallout from President Barack Obama's latest healthcare initiatives. While he recently delayed the mandate – ruling that the new minimums on health care benefits for permanent employees won't be enforced until the middle of next year – employers are still shifting their staffs around to minimize increased cost. Most are doing that by contracting workers as freelancers, or by offering them less than 30 hours of work weekly.
And the statistics show that Americans are willing to settle for that on-demand work. According to the report, there are 8.23 million Americans who want full-time work, but can only find part-time employment. That's a jump of over 320,000 people from May's results. Americans aren't finding the work that they want – so they're being forced to accept whatever they can get. The Associated Press notes that part-time hires are at their highest level since 1990, and have shown more growth since the recession than any other corner of the job market, despite widespread dissatisfaction among hires.
It's not that Americans can't find jobs – it's that they can't find the jobs they want. Many in search of full-time employment are finding their best options only offer part-time work. For college grads, the recently unemployed, and everyone in between, accepting a part-time job is becoming less of a compromise and more of a necessity.