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Posts tagged with: "LNS12600000"

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A glass half full or half empty?

The evolution of full-time and part-time employment

The first graph shows the evolution of full-time and part-time employment over the past few decades. It’s no surprise that both have tended to increase, as the general population has also increased over that period. There’s a bit of a surprise, though, in January 1994: This is when the definition of full-time work was readjusted, leading to a jump in both types of employment. So, why are we looking at these series? There’s been quite a bit of discussion on whether the recent recovery of the labor market has resulted in growth of full-time jobs. This question should be easy to settle by looking at the data. And, indeed, it’s quite apparent that full-time work has increased significantly since the recent recession. The picture isn’t so clear for part-time work, though, in part because the numbers are smaller in general and changes are therefore more difficult to distinguish.

For a better look, we modify the graph: Now, each series has its own axis, on the right for full-time and the left for part-time. In the second graph, it is quite apparent that, over the long-run, part-time work has increased. But the recent history is different: Part-time work jumped as full-time employment fell during the recent recession, but then stayed at the same level even as full-time work trended up.

How these graphs were created: Search for “time employed” and select the two series. (We chose the seasonally adjusted ones.) Click on “Add to Graph” and you have the first graph. Click on “Edit Graph,” open the “Format” tab, and move the Y-axis for one series to the right side.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

View on FRED, series used in this post: LNS12500000, LNS12600000

Part-time workers: Willing or not?

The evolution of part-time work has come up repeatedly in the public discourse. Let’s look at the data. The top graph shows two types of part-time situations: one for those who voluntarily choose part-time work and one for those who would rather work full-time but can find only part-time work (including those whose jobs were reduced to part-time status). Both lines trend upward in the long run in ways that seem consistent with population growth. The cyclical impact is also noticeable, as recessions typically push more people into part-time work, especially for the “non-volunteers.” (FYI: That shift in 1994 was caused by a change to the survey that re-explained what “part-time for economic reasons” means.)

The bottom graph uses a percentage distribution that may reveal more clues about the reasons behind part-time work: There’s a long-term trend toward more involuntary part-time work (among those who work part-time) but with a recent reversal of that trend. Since 2009, contrary to what’s often portrayed, there’s been no increase in part-time work. Over that same time period, the proportion of involuntary part-time workers hasn’t increased either.

How these graphs were created. Top graph: Search for “part time employment,” check the two series you want, and select “Add to Graph.” Bottom graph: Start with the same graph but restrict the sample to start in 1994, then re-format the graph by selecting graph type “Area” with stacking set to “Percent.”

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

View on FRED, series used in this post: LNS12032194, LNS12600000


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