America's Transition To A Part-Time Worker Society Accelerates As Part-Time Jobs Hit Record

Tyler Durden's picture

Back in December 2010 Zero Hedge was the first to point out what is easily the most troubling characteristic within America's evaporating labor force: its gradual transition to a part-time worker society. We elaborated on this back in February when we noted that the quality assessment of US jobs indicates that this most disturbing trend is accelerating. Finally, yesterday, the BLS' latest jobs report confirmed that our concerns have been valid all along: as of May, part-time jobs just as disclosed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics hit an all time high, over 28 million! These are people who traditionally have zero job benefits, including healthcare and retirement, and which according to the BLS "work less than 35 hours per week." In other words, as little as one hour per week of "work" is enough to classify one a part-time worker. More disturbing: the increase in part-time jobs in May compared to April: 618,000, or the fifth highest on record. It gets better: when added with the 508,000 increase in part-time jobs in April, this is the largest two month increase in part time-jobs in history. Which means of course that full time jobs in May must have declined: sure enough, at a -266,000 drop in full time jobs, the quality composition of the NFP report was just abysmal and makes any reported "increase" in those employed into a sad farce.

Part-time jobs:


Full-time jobs:


And the punchline: Part-time vs Full-time jobs:

Source: BLS

The chart above hardly needs further clarification: since the December 2007 start of the depression, full time jobs have declined by 6.9 million while part-time jobs have increased by 3.1 million.


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potlatch's picture

You know doctor, people either are thinking on the time scale you are, or they are not.  You are correctly observing, that the collapse of the wage world is not due to public sector employees, but rather a much broader trend of wage depression, in which the public sector workers have merely managed to escape either by hook or by crook.


I find it funny, because on the one hand lots of posters to this site understand, you cannot just squeeze the workers forever, or they will revolt.  On the other hand, some of these same posters piddle around with recent term symtoms such as public sector exceptionalism.  They aren't connecting the dots.

Landrew's picture

Well said my friend! Now if those who hate teachers could read what you wrote they would learn something!

HungrySeagull's picture

You cannot compete with one who sits in the Government making 120K a year and expects at least that much in insurance, life ins etc for free.

Just try paying for a private sector worker those kinds of wages.

Aint happening.

Freewheelin Franklin's picture

That would be true if government jobs paid less than similar private sector jobs, which used to be the case in NJ. But now, government jobs pay as well, or better, plus the pension and full retirement benefits.

JR's picture

It is the power of the public employee unions that have destroyed the union image. They represent a political pressure group and they apply pressure to the legislators and the supervisors and city councils and other officials who would rather meet their demands than to spar with them at election time.

It was never intended that public employees form unions; it was bound to create all kinds of problems, and the problems they created are here now. And the problem is that public service unions negotiating for their benefits don’t negotiate with their employer - the public. Instead, the negotiator is the politician who has no skin in the game; to give public employees more money and more benefits doesn’t come out of his pocket; he’s not the employer. Whereas when Ford Motor Co. negotiates with the auto workers, the more benefits it gives, the more it has to pay; it is negotiating with its own money. This is a totally different situation.

Many states previously outlawed public employee unions because of the power of these unions to hold the public hostage to extortionist demands by threatening power outages, lack of police and fire protection, arbitrary shutdown of schools while parents are at work…  Size also is power. For instance: the top employers in the city of San Jose, California, according to the 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, and listed by number of employees are: 1)  County of Santa Clara, 15,360; 2) Cisco Systems, 11,600; 3) IBM, 7,460; 4) City of San Jose, 6,620; 5) San Jose State University, 3,100; 6) eBay, 3,000; 7) Hitachi, 2,900; 8) San Jose Unified School District, 2,690; 9) Xilinx, 2,340; 10) Sanmina-SCI, 2,170; 11) Kaiser Permanente, 2,120; 12) Adobe Systems, 2,000; 13) Good Samaritan Hospital, 1,850; 14) KLA Tencor, 1,770; 15) Cadence Design Systems, 1,516.,_California

Dr. Kananga's picture

I don't think they're as powerful as they're painted to be--certainly not at the state level, otherwise there'd be no furloughs or pay cuts or increases in medical contributions, and they would have seen regular raises over the past 15 years instead of being tossed another hoilday every now and then in exchange for no raise. BTW--did you know it is illegal in California for a state employee union to go on strike?

So if they can't strike, where is the power?

You do hear about financial power--but I doubt that it comes close to the corporate power exercised over politicos. You know why California has no severence tax on oil extraction? (unlike Alaska and Texas) Because the oil companies contribute heavily to every politician in the state. It gets squashed everytime it's brought up.

Unions aren't perfect. But if those who labor can't get together and negotiate for their wages, then you have what we have today in the private sector. Is that a good alternative?

TBT or not TBT's picture

The power is here:   Forced dues on forced members is funneled to the Dem pols who featherbed for public unions.    See also "California, Governor Moonbeam"

Dr. Kananga's picture

Dude that is so frickin Koch Bros talking point. Gov 'Moonbeam' just got the unions to agree to pay cut in the middle of a contract and no one is going to court over it, unlike old Schwartzyhummer. And they expect major cuts and layoffs--no battle.

But watch carefully when they start cancelling all the private contracts with the state--the contractors will scream bloody murder about the sanctity of contracts, the loss of services to the public etc.

Landrew's picture

Well said! In fact I would love to read your thoughts in an article? Bravo! Bravo!

JR's picture

Dr. K, I am not aware of any cut in teachers’ salaries by Jerry Brown. In fact,” Brown announced that K-12 education (i.e., the teachers’ unions) will be spared budget cuts in his budget proposal. Pleas site your sources.

And, according to California’s San Luis Obispo Tribune May 31: “State employees temporarily lost pay through furloughs ordered by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger." BUT "The cut was about 14 percent but pay has since been restored and relatively few state workers have lost their jobs to layoffs.”

Read more here:

Dr. Kananga's picture

And you will never be aware of any cuts to teachers pay by Jerry Brown. They don't work for him. They work at the school district level and are not state employees.

With regard to prior furloughs, most state employees lost thousands of dollars in wages over two years (in addition to paying state income taxes--what a treat. You work for the state, you get to contribute more to gov't than the average taxpayer.) They were restored during the third year of the current contract and supposedly there would be no further cuts--but less than a year in to the final year, another 5% cut.

Everyone knows that this isn't the last cut. It's the first cut of the new 'normal'--meaning if you plan to stay on, plan on earning far less than you started with.

But enough of the boo-hoo-hoo. Given what's going on in Europe and Wall street, pretty soon we're all going to be scrounging--public or private. Unions wil be gone. So will the middle class.

JR's picture

The power of the public sector unions comes from the money they raise through their dues which can be used on the negotiators, namely the politicians, to support or reject them. And speaking of California, Governor Jerry Brown is a perfect example of how powerful these public unions are because he is crossed with $16 billion in debt facing a tax increase to save the unions. He’s caught between the public and the powerful unions who are trying to hold onto their obscene wage and benefit packages that are literally bankrupting the cities and the state.

Taxpayers not only have to pay for these above average salaries, but now have to guarantee them 8% or more earnings on their Big Retirements. Already government salaries are 30 percent higher than those in the private sector and their benefits 70 percent higher, according to BLS.

To say that these public sector unions don’t have any power in the face of these development is not to be paying attention.

And btw, it was Jerry Brown who allowed the teachers in California to unionize during his 1975–83 term and they are a major reason why he is once again the governor of California.  The 325,000 member California Teachers Association also is a supporter of Mexican immigration, using Mexican immigration into the California school systsem to increase their power and income.  Hispanics now make up close to 50% of California’s student population; whites comprise only 31% of California’s students.

And, in answer to your claim that "it is illegal in California for a state employee union to go on strike," according to the 2.1 million Service Employees International Union (SEIU): “In a case brought to the California Supreme Court by SEIU in 1985, the court held that strikes by public employees are legal in California….  state law provides that the strike can be legal even if a contract contains a ‘No Strike’ clause...”

potlatch's picture

Those ratios will only widen.  If it can't be automated and reduced to a turnkey, capital wants nothing to do with it.  I do not think there is some evil municpal dragon somewhere gobbling up economic sectors; much rather, capital sheds that which it loathes to have to work for capital, to the public sector.  If you get a rumble somewhere, it is not the governmental dragon, but capital, wanting a sector to be given to it.  If they want it, it is because they have seen profit in it, ie, automation and eventual turnkey.


dragons are rhetorical devices used by wizards to scare children: they do not exist.

Dr. Kananga's picture

"See a problem, thank a union."


uh huh...


Perhaps you've logged into the wrong news website? CNN is that way ---->



To clarify: if you're down on unions, fine, but make your case and ditch the MSM talking points. This is the Fight Club. We like it because it isn't full of unsupported BS like the other media blogs.

Uncle Remus's picture

Try making your case for unions.

Dr. Kananga's picture

Sure. If you want to earn a living and support a family without having a college degree, and you don't have the wherewithal to start your own business, you'd want to join a trade union and earn a living wage with benefits. Otherwise, you won't earn shit, you'll retire into poverty, and you're likely to end up on public assistence sooner or later, especially if you have a family and need medical help.

This was true 30 years ago, and it's still true today. The diff is now about 50% of the population is now poor or near poor and there are not enough jobs to get them out of the hole. Are unions responsible for that? I don't see how, but hey, I don't know everything.

I do know that through the mechanations of the Fed, real earnings across the board have declined by about 25%-30% over the same period of time


How's that?

LasVegasDave's picture

Its always easier to be a parasite than a producer

Unions only exist through the use of force.


Dr. Kananga's picture

"Its always easier to be a parasite than a producer"


No doubt about it. The slimy bastards over at the Teamsters are trying to offload a large part of their 52 trillion dollar derivatives portfolio onto a FDIC insured bank as we speak. They're about to get downgraded by Moodys by about three pegs and when that happens they'll lose all their contracts if they can't get someone else to insure their bullshit holdings, which means they'll fold like a fucking house of cards and bring down the economy. The bill will probably end up in the taxpayers lap--which would be bad, since 52 trillion is also the entire GDP of the US.

Oops. Did I say Teamsters? Sorry. I meant Morgan Stanley.


LasVegasDave's picture

It's a tough choice who has done more harm to the US economy, Morgan Stanley or the Teamsters.  Hard to defend either.

Nice that you recognize they are both parasites.

Dr. Kananga's picture

Everyone is a parasite in a fiat based economy, whether they want to be or not.

But some parasites are MUCH bigger.



Got my figures mixed up. 52 trillion is not the GDP of the US.

It's the GDP of the entire world.

Cabreado's picture

"But some parasites are MUCH bigger."


You must be talking about the corrupt union leaders...

Good diagnosis, Doc.

Dr. Kananga's picture

Yeah, because the union bosses have made it impossible to discover prices on Wall Street, which has led to the malinvestment of trillions of dollars around the globe and the corruption of our entire political and economic infrastructure, not to mention the fact that with every fed note we gleefully put into circulation we are borrowing from our grandchildren's grandchildren, since they'll be paying that loan off long after we turn to dust (check your pocket--that's a loan from a private bank, not money.) Bastards.

Cabreado's picture

I refuse to give corrupt union leaders a pass because corrupt bankers appear larger.

There are many bastards, Dr...
That's exactly why we're here.

potlatch's picture

ratio = latin.  related: reason = English.  pertaining to proportion, or the capacity to see proportion, or to be proportionate.  Yes sir.  Lots of bastards.  Let's be rational about it.  I'm long reason, despite the idjits.  But sir, and I am not accusing you of this, just stating my position, to argue that the union system is or has been a greater destructive force to the economic world in toto that the world of high finance, that is an irrational seeing of things.  Someone has cataracts, and it ain't me.

Landrew's picture

Yeah you are right higer wages are the worst! We should give more to the rich, they will know how what is good for us. Higher wages are a sin. We should all work for less if you are not part of the 1% that is!

Cabreado's picture

It is appropriate to not blindly trust.
You appear to place your trust in those who you assume are doing you a favor.

Paying your union dues is feeding the rich.
And depending on your particular situation, by extension perhaps even putting your livelihood in peril.

Offthebeach's picture

So either way you depend on the public teat.

potlatch's picture

It is not difficult to arrange so an honest man can retire to a modest cottage at the end of a productive life.  it really isn't.  It just takes a sense of conscience./

HungrySeagull's picture

Your Company cannot last that long.

You can expect to either faceplant the whole thing aka facebook style in a decade or become a Union/Govt Contractor to survive.

mjk0259's picture

a,b,c are widely done in industries where there are no unions and never have been any unions.

AnAnonymous's picture

Why risk being held hostage to parasitic unions (and Obama care, mandatory pensions, unemployment/workers comp, etc.. ) when you can

a. outsource

b. hire temps

c. use part timers

See a problem, thank a union

Well, kicking out unions does not kick out outsourcing, hire temps, use part timers.

So... Another fallacy from US citizens as per usual.

StormShadow's picture

Unions are NOT the answer.  That's like amputating my arm because I have a hangnail.

potlatch's picture

I get it!  Wow. 



For a fee, I will disclose what the Oracle above has said.  All fees to go through legal firm of Whyohwhy, Cantourschools, Teachourkids, and Tonotbemorons

narnia's picture

The problem isn't part time work. The problem is that we cannot afford the $6.5 trillion + of involuntary transactions and all of the other lags on productivity and related inflation governments throw in our laps with total compensation from part time work.

I'm one who believes the end game of a free society is so much deflation in what we need & want that a couple days a week is all we need to contribute support ourselves & family.

Dr. Kananga's picture



I remember back in the 1970s that the futurists thought our biggest problem would be finding things to do with all our spare time, as computers were going to radically increase productivity and we'd all be working part-time. Of course they assumed that workers would see most of the benefit of that increase in productivity...

Binko's picture

Damn, I'm glad to see somebody else mention this. It was hugely accepted in the 60s and 70s that the benefits of automation would be shared throughout society and we would all be working fewer hours while also enjoying a higher standard of living.

But nobody imagined the kind of wealth accumulation that we see today. Nobody imagined something like a Walmart where one family acquires $100 billion in wealth on the backs of millions of minimum wage workers.

Also that was a more idealistic time. Back then we didn't know just how cold-blooded and greedy people can be. Most rich people are perfectly happy to put the screws down on workers and drive wages down below a subsistence level if it means they can buy a 10th luxery car or a 5th mansion or whatever. There are no limits to the greed of those who are already well off it seems.


Cabreado's picture

"There are no limits to the greed of those who are already well off it seems."

So then, you find these people exempt from your philosophy:

Among the Top 10 unions, dozens of top officials have salary-and-benefit packages that rank them among the top percentage of income-earners in the country.

Or do you pick and choose your definition of greed?


JuicedGamma's picture

I guess no one thought to play Parker Bros. Monopoly as an economic model.

The only way out is a full reset, coming to a continent near you.

narnia's picture

$100 billion is about 4.5 days of federal, state & local direct spending. Productivity has been more than stripped by inflation & taxation.

HungrySeagull's picture

And eliminate pencil/paper.

But no... they increase the paper load by the Triplicate.

Ricky Bobby's picture

Unions, the all time best money maker for the Mafia.

Dr. Sandi's picture

If you've looked around lately, you'll notice the MafIA is pretty much gone. All their best talent has gone over to the bigger and badder IA, the C-IA. Much better protection of the rackets and drug trade than under the MafIA.

potlatch's picture

The CIA works with Luca Brasi now?  I woulda thought that a bit.... hamfisted.

duo's picture

A third of the workforce in Japan is part time, living on the equivalent of $18-20K a year.  With their parents, of course.

t_kAyk's picture

= US college graduates

JR's picture

Fed policies, recognized by the wafting of economic bubbles blowing and bursting, have consequences. For instance, this by Architecture Lab:

The Death of Architecture

“The last few years haven’t been kind to architects. The once-booming construction sector has been brought to a near-standstill by the housing bubble’s burst and the economic downturn that followed.

“’New study shows architecture, arts degrees yield highest unemployment,” a Washington Post headline announced in January. Based on 2009 and 2010 Census Bureau data, the Georgetown University study showed a nearly 14 percent unemployment rate among architecture school graduates…

And, according to Benson's Economic & Market Trends in January: The latest statistics show a vast swarm of newly minted law degrees, and virtually no need for new corporate counsels or ambulance chasers.

t_kAyk's picture

Sign(s) of the Times. 

My sister attends a liberal arts college and is pursuing a creative writing degree.  It is her life and I support whatever will make her happy, but she knows that the job prospects are bad and she is terribly out of shape physically.  Sadly, she is a typical American college student. 

I tell her to learn a trade and get in the best shape possible.  Even if you don't have any farming knowledge or experience as a carpenter, you can always grab a shovel or carry some lumber.  Earn your keep with an honest days work. 

Max Fischer's picture



Even if you don't have any farming knowledge or experience as a carpenter, you can always grab a shovel or carry some lumber.....

So.... you told your college-aged sister that she needs to learn farming, carpentry or be strong enough to carry lumber?  Do you know what a GIRL is? 


Doomer hillbillies are hilarious! You should encourage her to become a tractor mechanic.