Research finds involuntary part-time employment remains high

Although unemployment overall has returned to its pre-recession level, involuntary part-time employment is still above its pre-recession level, according to new research released by the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. If the rate continues this pace of decline, it will not return to its pre-recession level until 2018, a full nine years after the official end of the recession.

The research also found racial and educational disparities in involuntary part-time work persist. Since the recession, involuntary part-time employment declined by more than 30 percent for white, Asian and Hispanic workers but by less than 20 percent for black workers. Among workers with less than a high school degree, 9 percent work part time involuntarily compared to just 2 percent of college graduates. Involuntary part-time workers are more than five times as likely as full-time workers to live in poverty, and they earn 19 percent less per hour than full-time workers in similar jobs.

“Some have asked whether this level of involuntary employment is the new normal,” said Rebecca Glauber, associate professor of sociology and faculty fellow at Carsey, who conducted the research. “In the post-recession, the largest share of involuntary part-time employment is attributable to a gain in work hours — workers moving from unemployment to part-time. Perhaps today, involuntary part-time employment is a quick stop on the path toward full-time work. Or perhaps not. As the economy continues to recover we need to explore the complexities of involuntary part-time employment and disparities in the recovery.”

The full report can be found at carsey.unh.edu/publication/involuntary-part-time.