July jobs report shows more Americans working part-time

Commuters and tourists exit a subway car on May 26, 2022 in New York City.

Robert Nickelsberg | beautiful pictures

Many Americans took up part-time and temporary jobs last month, which could herald future changes in the form of today’s thriving job market.

Recruiting in July easily blow away past expectations, indicating a strong labor market despite other signs of weakness in the economy. But an increase in the number of workers in part-time positions for economic reasons – often due to reduced working hours, poor business conditions or because they cannot find full-time work – shows potential instability ahead.

Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday reported the number of such workers, known as “involuntary part-time workers,” rose by 303,000 seasonally adjusted in July, to 3.9 million. That followed a sharp 707,000 drop in June.

The index, which is volatile, is still below the 4.4 million involuntary part-timers recorded in February 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic ended the labor market.

The number of full-time workers decreased by 71,000 people from the previous month, while part-time workers, both voluntary and involuntary, increased by 384,000 people.

The July increase was not due to a lack of full-time employment. Compared to the June report, July had fewer workers who could only find part-time work. Instead, the report said, workers were forced into part-time jobs because of reduced working hours and unfavorable business conditions.

According to Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, the report points to a move “in the wrong direction” and could signal an upcoming recession.

At the same time, temporary help service jobs showed signs of expanding, rising 9,800 in July, more than double the 4,300 gain in June.

These are workers who are hired temporarily for part-time jobs, and are often the first to be laid off as employers face tougher economic times, according to Pollak. Growth in that metric could be a reassuring sign for the economy, she said.

According to Erica Groshen, former commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and senior economic adviser at Cornell University, the conflicting indicators could reflect a fragmenting economy where some industries are struggling harder. other industries.

Another possibility, she said, is that strong hiring earlier this month caused businesses to pull back to correct mistakes.

“At the end of the month, we had people having their hours cut,” she said.

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