Economics, Pethokoukis, U.S. Economy

Death of a talking point: About America’s ‘part-time job economy’


In a new research note, First Trust economists Bob Stein and Brian Wesbury engage in a bit of economic mythbusting. In the June jobs report, according to the Household Survey, part-time jobs increased by 799,000 out of total job gains of 407,000. That means full-time jobs fell. And that led to lots of hysterical headlines and analysis about  ‘part-time America.” But it simply isn’t true. Stein and Wesbury:

The problem is that monthly employment statistics, especially from the household survey, are incredibly volatile. For example, just two months earlier, in April, part-time jobs were down 398,000 while full-time jobs were up 412,000! In other words, please be careful when playing with these statistics.

[Indeed], most jobs added in this recovery have been full-time jobs. In 2013 alone, 1.5 million full-time jobs were added while 188,000 part-time jobs were lost.

June was what statisticians call an outlier. If we look at the first five months of 2014, January through May, total jobs rose 1.23 million, while part-time jobs fell 153,000. And, during the twelve months ending in June, total jobs are up 2.15 million, with only 10,000 of them being part-time.

In other words, focusing solely on June data is a misdirection. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, total part-time jobs were 19.2% of all jobs in June 2014. Back in 2009, total part-time jobs averaged 19.5% of all jobs.

And, just to be clear, we do believe that Obamacare and other regulatory actions, higher taxes and more government spending in the past decade have created a less dynamic economy and more part-time jobs. We just don’t agree with spinning one month’s worth of data into an entire world view. It’s not appropriate, it’s a misuse of data and it’s probably politically motivated rather than any attempt to get a handle on the real economy.


Follow James Pethokoukis on Twitter at @JimPethokoukisand AEIdeas at @AEIdeas.

2 thoughts on “Death of a talking point: About America’s ‘part-time job economy’

  1. You are getting your ‘statistics’ from the BLS (Bureau of Lying Statistics). Who, in their right mind, believes anything this outfit says? These gov. bureaucrat parasites will say anything, and do. Nice try, but this dog doesn’t hunt. Maybe you should ask the people who cannot find FT jobs. Or how about asking those who have been looking for ANY kind of job so long, and not finding one, that they have given up looking at all! Your Boys over at the BLS no longer even count those people. Get outta here with this BS, would ya? Spare us!!!

    • Totally agree with you. The BLS should only report the U-6 unemployment rate which is 12.2%. However, America’s politics are not about the real life struggles of Americans, but rather it is about the business of politics for the sole purpose of keep getting re-elected. So, Lying in America is no longer a favorite pass time, for most politicians it’s now the American Way Of Life.

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