The July jobs report was broadly disappointing, which offset some of the enthusiasm that came in the wake of the bullish June jobs report.
One trend that has emerged has been the rise of part-time (i.e. those working less than 35 hours per week), low-paying (i.e. those getting paid below the median wage) jobs.
“Through March, employment growth was about as fast in high-wage industries as in low-wage industries,” noted UBS’s Maury Harris. “But over the three months through July, low-wage industry employment has gone up at a 2.7% annual rate and high-wage industry employment only at a 1.3% annual rate — a relatively large 1.4 pct pt differential.”
Some economists attribute some of this shift to Obamacare, which will eventually force companies to offer health care to full-time workers or face a penalty.
Still, it’s unclear how bad this is for the economy assuming its bad at all.
“What doesn’t really add up with this focus on part-time employment is what the payroll data are telling us about labour income, which is now on a discernible uptrend,” said economist David Rosenberg in a note to clients last month.
For now, the trends in part-time, low-paying jobs are something economists will continue to flag and debate.