Free Trial

REPEAT:MNI INTERVIEW:Part-Time Jobs Consistent w/Tight US Mkt

Repeats Story Initially Transmitted at 20:41 GMT Jun 1/16:41 EST Jun 1
--Involuntary Part-Time Employment Still Elevated, SF Fed Economist Tells MNI
--Employers Face Shortage of Part-Time Workers, Draw from Full-Time Pool
--Rise of Service Industries Driving Long-Term Trend
By Jean Yung
     WASHINGTON (MNI) - Some 5 million Americans wanted full-time work but were
forced to work part-time jobs in May despite a national unemployment rate that
fell to a fresh 18-year low, but Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Vice
President Rob Valletta told MNI in an exclusive interview that he believes that
elevated levels of involuntary part-time workers are consistent with a tight
labor market, and not a signal of extra slack as some would suggest. 
     Since the Great Recession, the rise of certain service industries with
uneven work schedules have underpinned an uptick in involuntary part-time
workers relative to where the economy is in the business cycle, and does not
appear to be a trend that will reverse itself anytime soon, Valletta said. 
     Whereas some Fed policymakers and economists have flagged elevated levels
of involuntary part-time work as representing labor market slack, Valletta
interprets the persistence of the trend as reflecting a structural shift that
can be interpreted as employers facing a shortage of workers willing to work
part time -- a group increasingly in demand.
     That's a key insight that will help illuminate the debate within the
Federal Reserve over precisely how much more progress the labor market can make
before tightness feeds through to wage gains and broader price inflation. 
     The number of individuals working 35 hours or less per week fluctuates with
the overall state of the U.S. job market. But since 2016, that group has counted
1.4 million more people than one would expect based on how tight the overall
labor market has gotten, Valletta said. 
     "That's up by about 40% relative to its base level before the Great
Recession," he said. "One-and-a-half million may not sound like a lot in a labor
market of 150 million to 160 million, but for people in these kinds of low-wage
labor markets where there's a lot of part-time work, that's actually a lot of
people who feel stuck in these low-hours jobs." 
     Many of these jobs are in restaurants, hotels, tourism outfits and home
health care services, Valletta found after analyzing state-level employment
data. These two sectors -- leisure and hospitality, and education and health
services -- have historically relied on part-time employees and have now grown
in importance in the U.S. economy. 
     "If employers have more jobs they want to fill with part-time workers than
there are part-time workers who want to be in those jobs, then those employers
end up forcing people into part-time work and that's how you get involuntary
part-time employment," Valletta said. 
     "Generally I interpret the trend as consistent with a tight labor market
and reflecting a shift in the way employers approach the balance of supply and
demand between full-time and part-time jobs."
     Sectors in which there's a lot of involuntary part-time employment tend to
hire low-skill low-paid workers. But it's not clear that minimizing labor costs
is the primary reason behind why these employers prefer part-time workers,
Valletta said. 
     Uneven work schedules are a fundamental element of those industries, he
said. For example, it is cost-effective to hire for a 4 to 5-hour shift to meet
the demand in peak periods such as the lunch rush, and such patterns are
widespread in the hospitality sector.
     Technology has also enabled employers to schedule hours as needed and in
real time, allowing companies to more efficiently respond to their labor needs,
Valletta said. 
     Though he has not analyzed any linkages between trends in part-time work
and the modest wage growth that has characterized the recovery, Valletta said
the increase in involuntary part-time work is another reflection of the steady
hollowing-out of the workforce as more jobs are created at the top and bottom
than those requiring middle-level skills and pay middle-level wages. 
     But, much like the disappearance of manufacturing jobs since the 1970s,
"it's a sign of structural change," Valletta said, "not a sign of weakness in
the labor market." 
--MNI Washington Bureau; +1 202-371-2121; email:
MNI Washington Bureau | +1 202-371-2121 |
MNI Washington Bureau | +1 202-371-2121 |

To read the full story

Why Subscribe to


MNI is the leading provider

of intelligence and analysis on the Global Fixed Income, Foreign Exchange and Energy markets. We use an innovative combination of real-time analysis, deep fundamental research and journalism to provide unique and actionable insights for traders and investors. Our "All signal, no noise" approach drives an intelligence service that is succinct and timely, which is highly regarded by our time constrained client base.

Our Head Office is in London with offices in Chicago, Washington and Beijing, as well as an on the ground presence in other major financial centres across the world.
}); window.REBELMOUSE_TASKS_QUEUE.push(function(){ window.dataLayer.push({ 'event' : 'logedout', 'loggedOut' : 'loggedOut' }); }); window.REBELMOUSE_TASKS_QUEUE.push(function(){ (function appendPosts () { var policyPosts = document.getElementsByClassName('policy-posts-wrapper')[0]; var policyPostsMenu = document.querySelector('.policy-posts-span'); policyPostsMenu.append(policyPosts); = "block"; var dataPosts = document.getElementsByClassName('data-posts-wrapper')[0]; var dataPostsMenu = document.querySelector('.data-posts-span'); dataPostsMenu.append(dataPosts); = "block"; })(); }); window.REBELMOUSE_TASKS_QUEUE.push(function(){ document.querySelectorAll(".my-mni").forEach(function(item){ item.href="/core/users/email_login/"; item.innerHTML="Log In"; }) }); window.REBELMOUSE_TASKS_QUEUE.push(function(){ document.querySelectorAll("img").forEach(function (img) { img.addEventListener("contextmenu", function (e) { return false; }); }); document .querySelector(".site-logo img") .addEventListener("contextmenu", function (e) { return true; }); }); window.REBELMOUSE_TASKS_QUEUE.push(function(){ document.querySelector('.signup-form').addEventListener('submit', () => { window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'event' : 'submission_click', 'event_category': "Sign Up Button Clicks", 'event_label': "Posts" }); }) }); window.REBELMOUSE_TASKS_QUEUE.push(function(){ REBELMOUSE_STDLIB.createElementChangeListener(".areas-of-interests__options .signin-module", function (item) { item.addEventListener("click", function () { if(item.querySelector("input").checked){ item.classList.add("selected"); // item.querySelector("input").checked=false; } else { item.classList.remove("selected"); // item.querySelector("input").checked=true; } }) }) function initializeTooltip(){ document.addEventListener("mouseover", function (e) { if (".authentication--field-fi_market > i")) { document .querySelector("") .classList.remove("hide"); } if (".authentication--field-fx_market > i")) { document .querySelector(".subscription-form-tooltip.fx-market") .classList.remove("hide"); } if (".authentication--field-data > i")) { document .querySelector("") .classList.remove("hide"); } if (".authentication--field-mni_research > i")) { document .querySelector(".subscription-form-tooltip.mni_research") .classList.remove("hide"); } if (".authentication--field-policy > i")) { document .querySelector(".subscription-form-tooltip.policy") .classList.remove("hide"); } if (".authentication--field-EM_market > i")) { document .querySelector(".subscription-form-tooltip.EM_market") .classList.remove("hide"); } if (".authentication--field-calendar > i")) { document .querySelector(".subscription-form-tooltip.calendar") .classList.remove("hide"); } if (".authentication--field-commodities > i")) { document .querySelector(".subscription-form-tooltip.commodities") .classList.remove("hide"); } }); document .querySelectorAll(".areas-of-interests__options i") .forEach(function(btn){ btn.addEventListener("mouseleave", function (e) { let tooltips = document.querySelectorAll(".subscription-form-tooltip"); tooltips.forEach(function(tooltip){ tooltip.classList.add("hide"); }); }); }); } function createTooltip(item) { const tooltip = document.createElement('i'); tooltip.classList.add('tooltip'); item.appendChild(tooltip); } REBELMOUSE_STDLIB.createElementChangeListener(".areas-of-interests__options .authentication--label", function(item){ createTooltip(item); if(document.querySelectorAll(".areas-of-interests__options .authentication--label").length >=7 ){ initializeTooltip(); } }) REBELMOUSE_STDLIB.createElementChangeListener('.signup-form.authentication--form',function(item){ item.onsubmit=function(e){ ga('b.send', 'event', {eventCategory: 'Signup', eventAction: 'CompletedForm', eventLabel:'pageTitle', eventValue:15}); window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; dataLayer.push({ 'event' : 'signup_click', 'event_category': "Signup", 'event_action': 'CompletedForm', 'event_label': 'pageTitle', 'event_value': 15 }); } }) }); window.REBELMOUSE_TASKS_QUEUE.push(function(){ let posts = document.querySelectorAll(".all-content-wrapper .widget:not(.stream-story-processed)"); window.check_story_posts(posts, "streamOfPosts"); }); window.REBELMOUSE_LOW_TASKS_QUEUE.push(function(){ /* const sidebar = document.querySelector('.left-sidebar-container'); const stickyContent = document.querySelector('.sticky-content'); const siteContent = document.querySelector('.all-posts-stream'); if (sidebar && stickyContent && siteContent) { if (siteContent.clientHeight > sidebar.clientHeight) { console.log('grater -> ', siteContent.clientHeight + ' > ' + sidebar.clientHeight); = (siteContent.clientHeight - sidebar.clientHeight) + 'px'; } } */ });