I'm fine with freelancing, which I do now; I'm a self-employed writer and editor. What I mean is that I'm not actively seeking a 20- or 25-hour-a-week job working regularly for someone else.
In "normal" economic times, this wouldn't be a controversial statement. After all, a part-time job usually doesn't come with an employee benefits package (health insurance, savings plan, paid time off). It's also unlikely to pay enough, after taxes, to cover a person's or family's living expenses.
Yet lately, some readers of this blog have hinted that I think part-time work is beneath me, that I'm too selectively holding out for a full-time job.
Others have implied that I'm lazy, that I would get out there and dig ditches if I really needed to work; and if I don't need to, then I can't really appreciate how bad people have it out there.
Still others suggest that part-time jobs are the "new normal" (I hate that phrase!) and a person who really wants to work today has to take two or three part-time jobs. Businesses remain uncertain about our economic future and prefer to hire part-time workers. When the unemployment rate is as high as it is for as long as it's been (another "new normal" I reject), you have to take what you can get.
Who's Hiring For The Holidays
Is It A Mistake To Hold Out For A Full-Time Job?
Seasonal job openings: 5,200
A staple of many shopping malls across the nation, the gourmet gift basket retailer relies heavily on holiday sales to add to its profits. A privately held company, Hickory Farms perennially hires as many as 6,000 seasonal workers to work at its stores, which it calls "Holiday Gift Centers." Though many jobs involve interacting with customers, the company also needs additional workers to fill stock and labor positions, which may include driving in some locations, it says.
Though it has no bricks-and-mortar stores to staff, Amazon.com Inc.'s seasonal hiring plans are nonetheless robust. It needs plenty of additional workers to help fill orders and keep products moving through its warehouses nationwide. The Seattle-based company, which is unveiling a new line of Kindle-brand electronic readers and tablets, also plans to add 2,000 new jobs at three new distribution centers to help deal with demand driven by the new devices.
The department store operator announced it September that it would ramp up holiday hiring by more than 10 percent from last year to support its business in stores and online. Wisconsin-based Kohl's Corp., which operates 1,134 stores in 49 states, plans to hire an average of 41 workers at each store, a 4 percent increase from last year. The company also expects to add about 5,700 seasonal positions at distribution centers and more than 30 seasonal credit operations jobs.
The former No. 1 seller of toys in the U.S., Toys R Us Inc. credits a gradually improving economy and an increase in consumer spending for its decision to hire 11 percent more seasonal workers than the 40,000 it did in 2011. Of those it hired last year, Toys R Us says roughly 15 percent of them were kept on after the holiday sales season ended.
The holidays are the busiest time of year for the world's largest retailer and the company plans to hire more than 50,000 temporary workers to help keep store shelves and move customers through checkout lines as the 2012 holiday season approaches. Walmart Stores Inc. also plans to give existing employees the chance to work more hours during the season, acknowledging complaints among some workers who said they weren't able to work as many hours as they would have liked.
Though far smaller than rival Walmart, the nation's No. 2 retailer nonetheless plans to hire plenty of holiday season workers in 2012. The Minnesota-based company plans to add 80,000 to 90,000 seasonal jobs, down a bit from the 92,000 it hired last year. Hiring forecasts are likely be held in check by Target's expectations of an "ultracompetitive" holiday sales season. Target Corp., along with Walmart, is keeping an eye on expenses, which of course includes labor costs, so as to lower prices and stimulate sales.
The king of all department stores, Cincinnati-based Macy's Inc. said it's hiring nearly 3 percent more seasonal staff than it did last year, in anticipation of higher holidays sales. Sales associates and call center employees are among the positions Macy's is looking to fill, which also include those in its distribution and fulfillment centers, to support the department store operator's growing online business.
Best Buy Co. plans to hire about 9,000 more seasonal workers as it did last year, though this year's number is still below the 29,000 it hired in 2010. In July, the world's largest consumer electronics chain cut 600 of its "Geek Squad" employees in response to weak sales. The boost in seasonal hiring is helping to contribute to what analysts say is the best year of seasonal-job creation that the U.S. has seen in five years.
Much like Best Buy, GameStop has seen its sales erode as more and more consumers turn to buying online. Faced with strong competitors such as Amazon, GameStop has nonetheless managed to hold its own in terms of sales and profits. As with most retailers, the Grapevine, Texas-based company derives much of its sales during the all-important holiday sales season -- and its more than 4,400 stores in the U.S. need more staff to help keep those cash registers ringing.
J.C. Penney Co. has struggled to remake its namesake JCPenney stores into a retail business that's more modern and less reliant on discounts to draw customers. And the coming holiday shopping season will be an important test of whether the signs of improvement that Plano, Texas-based company has lately been showing are real or not. Sales are expected to be tepid this holiday season, but at least one company representative says that won't affect the need for seasonal workers. "[It] looks like there will be another increase this year over last year's hiring," said, Bob Parker, a site manager for JCPenney in Sarasota, Fla., "probably by as much as 10 to 20 percent in some cases."
The fall is prime season for privately held Party City Holdings Inc., which is perhaps best known as a seller of Halloween costumes. But the retailer also sells party supplies and seasonal decorations, which result in a steady flow of customers this time of year. The Rockaway, N.J.-based company has 600 stores nationwide. In addition to its namesake Party City stores, it also operates The Paper Factory, Halloween City and Factory Card & Party Outlet shops.
It takes a lot more workers to help move the millions of boxes and packages Americans send to each other each holiday season. And though FedEx Corp. expects shipping volume will be up 13 percent, it's hiring about as many workers as it did last holiday season. The company says it can stick with the same number of seasonal workers as last year because it has been hiring staff throughout 2012.
The Memphis, Tenn.-based company, which is closely watched as an indicator of consumer demand and economic health, anticipates handling more than 280 million shipments during the holiday season from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Competitor UPS added about 55,000 workers for the holidays last year, 10 percent more than it hired in 2010.
With expectations of delivering 527 million packages this holiday season, UPS Inc. is adding 55,000 workers to sort, load and deliver packages, the same number it hired last year, but 10 percent higher than in 2010. Based on the company's forecast, it appears those and full-time UPS workers will be busiest during the final week before the Christmas holiday. UPS says 28 million, or 5 percent of packages, will be delivered Thursday, Dec. 20 -- projected to be the busiest of the year.
So get with the program, Fran! Full-time work is so 20th century!
But why do I have to accept that premise? There are still full-time jobs out there. I apply for them nearly every day. It may be true that my odds of securing a part-time job are better than my chances of landing a full-time job. But that doesn't mean my choice to pursue only full-time positions makes me some kind of out-of-touch snob. I don't look down on part-time jobs; I just don't see them as pathways to my dreams.
Are we no longer supposed to have dreams, aspirations, goals? Should we just forget about them and be grateful if we can get by from day to day? To me, that's absurd. That's not my idea of America. People still come to America from everywhere to realize their dreams. I should give mine up? No.
Just because the economy is stuck in neutral now doesn't mean that it always will be. I'm hoping (praying, too) that we'll elect new leadership in this country in four weeks and things will begin to turn around then. This country will pursue policies again that will enable the economy to grow again. That's what I'm holding out for.
I have a feeling that's what many businesses -- the ones that offer only part-time jobs now -- are holding out for these days. Of course there are good arguments to be made for taking a part-time job.
It may be part-time now, but sometimes a part-time job grows into a full-time job. This is true; but on the other hand, I left my last part-time job five years ago because I'd been told when they hired me that it would "eventually" become full-time. It never did and it wasn't going to.
Yes, I am financially able to take a pass on a part-time job, at least right now. It doesn't mean that I feel superior to my long-term unemployed peers for whom this isn't an option. I feel fortunate, not proud.
The mini-boom in part-time jobs is just another symptom of the economic misery in which we're mired today. It's another reason why, as long as I'm able to, I'll keep on doing freelance writing. On pursuing a part-time job, I choose not to -- for now.