Like everyone else, I am sick of an economy that just limps along. So I don’t really want to make Mort Zuckerman’s column on the sorry state of the economy my must-read for today.
Still, Zuckerman’s piece, headlined “A Jobless Recovery Is a Phony Recovery,” says what the media, which is filled with stories of our always-impending recovery, isn’t telling us:
The jobless nature of the recovery is particularly unsettling. In June, the government's Household Survey reported that since the start of the year, the number of people with jobs increased by 753,000—but there are jobs and then there are "jobs." No fewer than 557,000 of these positions were only part-time. The survey also reported that in June full-time jobs declined by 240,000, while part-time jobs soared by 360,000 and have now reached an all-time high of 28,059,000—three million more part-time positions than when the recession began at the end of 2007.
That's just for starters. The survey includes part-time workers who want full-time work but can't get it, as well as those who want to work but have stopped looking. That puts the real unemployment rate for June at 14.3%, up from 13.8% in May.
The 7.6% unemployment figure so common in headlines these days is utterly misleading. An estimated 22 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed; they are virtually invisible and mostly excluded from unemployment calculations that garner headlines.
At this stage of an expansion you would expect the number of part-time jobs to be declining, as companies would be doing more full-time hiring. Not this time. In the long misery of this post-recession period, we have an extraordinary situation: Americans by the millions are in part-time work because there are no other employment opportunities as businesses increase their reliance on independent contractors and part-time, temporary and seasonal employees….
Little wonder that earlier this month the Obama administration announced it is postponing the employer mandate until 2015, undoubtedly to see if the delay will encourage more full-time hiring. But thousands of small businesses have been capping employment at 30 hours and not hiring more than 50 full-timers, and the businesses are unlikely to suddenly change that approach just because they received a 12-month reprieve.
We may be transitioning into a permanently dismal economy of part-time work for people who want—and desperately need—fulltime jobs. Tyler Durden has a piece headlined “Behold The Part-Time Worker Society: ‘We Won’t Start Hiring Full-Time People.” Durden quotes a Subway manager saying he is turning to part-time help to avoid having to meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act for businesses that employ 50 or more people.
Durden has also written about the decline in manufacturing jobs, accompanied by a rise in jobs for waiters and bartenders. Manufacturing jobs are more stable, more lucrative, and afford more opportunity for moving up. Waitress and bartending jobs are more susceptible to part-time positions, too. The cost of complying with the Affordable Care Act could make us permanently a nation of part-time workers