How We Work Now, In America

The chart above divides total Full Time jobs by Total Part Time jobs, in the United States. Coming into the financial crisis of 2008, the US maintained nearly 5 Full Time jobs for every Part Time job. The failure of the economy to add back those Full Time jobs, along with flat to falling wage growth in real terms, accounts for much of the country’s dissatisfaction with the “recovery.” Replacing higher paying full time jobs with lower paying part time jobs simply won’t do. As food prices continue to climb, and as oil stubbornly holds to $100 a barrel (kicking 12% of US oil consumption offline), Americans are discovering what it’s like to live without progress.

-Gregor

  • Anonymous

    Gregor, I am wondering what are your definitions of “full time” and “part time”. “Permanent” employment for 40 hours per week would be “full time”, I suppose. How about a 3-month contract for 40 hours per week? Is that a “full time” job? How about “permanent” employment for 35 hours per week? Is that “full time”? How about a California government worker with an involuntary unpaid furlough 2 days per month? How about a workaholic job of 50 or 60 hours per week? Is that “full time”?

    In our culture, the job connects the adult person with the production and distribution network. Wouldn’t you agree that people don’t want jobs, or full-time jobs, so much as they want a reliable connection with the production and distribution network, the flip side of their concern for future income?

    Consider, if everyone who now works 40 hours per week were to cut back to 35 hours per week, or even 30 hours per week, while aggregate demand persisted (the same number of mouths to feed), then meeting that demand would require more workers. Presto, the part time jobs would solve the problem of unemployment (disengagement from the network of acquisition, consumption, production and distribution). 

    I have the nagging feeling I’m missing something.