According to the BLS household survey, part-time jobs fell 594,000 in September while full-time workers were up 691,000.
This was one hopeful nugget in an otherwise lackluster jobs report.
Workers are considered to be “part time” if they work under 35 hours a week.
Earlier this summer, when part-time numbers looked like they might be on the rise, some speculated that the shift was due to the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act.
Under Obamacare, employers will be required to offer health insurance or face penalties (though the White House will delay enforcement until 2015). Some companies have threatened to reduce their full-time staff to below the 50-employee threshold as a result, or simply shave back full-timers’ hours.
“If the health law were driving employers to cut employees’ hours, the most vulnerable workers would likely be those working just above the 30-hour cutoff,” writes the Wall Street Journal’s Ben Casselman. “That means the data would show a decline in those working 30 to 34 hours and an increase in those working less than 30 hours.” He explains:
That isn’t what’s happening. The share of part-timers who say they usually work between 30 and 34 hours at their main job has been roughly flat over the past three years, at about 28%. (September data aren’t yet available.) If anything, it’s actually risen in the past year, though the change has been minor. The share working just under 30 hours has indeed risen somewhat, but the share working under 25 hours has fallen — suggesting that employers are giving part-timers more hours, rather than cutting full-timers’ hours back.
Put another way: If the Labour Department used the same definition of “part-time” as the health law, its data would show no increase in part-time work over the past year.
Check out the chart showing that part-time workers as a share of total workers has, if anything, actually gone down.