Via the Washington Post:
In the new landscape of the American labor market, jobs are easier to come by but hours remain in short supply.
New government data slated for release Thursday is expected to show the economy added more than 200,000 jobs for the fifth straight month — the longest streak since the late 1990s. The unemployment rate is expected to hold steady at 6.3 percent after falling more than a percentage point over the past year. [Note from ST: It dropped to 6.1 – for these reasons]
But there’s a gnawing fear among economists that the improving data provides false comfort. More than 26 million people are in part-time jobs, significantly more than before the recession, making it one of the corners of the labor market that has been slowest to heal. That has led to worries that the workforce may be becoming permanently polarized, with part-timers stuck on one side and full-time workers on the other.
“What we’re seeing is a growing trend of low-quality part-time jobs,” said Carrie Gleason, director of the Fair Work Week Initiative, which is pushing for labor reforms. “It’s creating this massive unproductive workforce that is unable to productively engage in their lives or in the economy.”
Washington has begun to take notice. As the unemployment rate has dropped, the debate among policymakers has expanded from providing aid to those without a job to include improving conditions for those who do. President Obama has raised the minimum wage for federal contract workers, many of whom are part-time. The White House is also building support for a measure that would require companies to provide paid sick leave. Nationwide protests at retailers and fast-food chains that heavily rely on part-time labor have called for more reliable schedules.
NONE of which will “fix” the problem. Frankly, at this point the only thing that would fix it is to have another President in the White House who understands basic economics. November 2016 can’t come soon enough.