Most jobs added in this recovery have been full-time jobs. But the level of part-time work remains above prerecession levels even as the labor market overall has slowly recovered. As the Atlanta Fed’s Ellyn Terry points out, “Today, there are about 12 percent more people working part-time than before the recession and about 2 percent fewer people working full-time hours.”
But why? Again, Terry:
Weak business conditions and the increase in the relative cost of full-time employees have been about equally important drivers of the increase in the use of part-time employees thus far. Thinking about the future, firms mostly cite an expected rise in the relative cost of full-time workers as the reason for shifting toward more part-time employees. So while there are some clear structural forces at work, a large amount of uncertainty around the future cost of health care and the future pace of economic growth also exists. The extent to which these factors will ultimately affect the share working part-time remains to be seen.