One-Third of Part-Timers Want Full-Time Jobs, Can't Find Any

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Part-time work can be great if you want to make some money but have other obligations or desires, such as being a full-time student, kids at home or retirement. But if what you really need is a full-time job with a full-time income, and you can't find one, that's a problem. And almost a third of part-time workers have it.

According to a new survey of 301 part-time workers by Harris Poll for CareerBuilder, 32 percent said they wanted to work full-time but couldn't find a position. Within that group, 31 percent were the sole breadwinners for their families, and 39 percent said they struggle to make ends meet. A quarter of the group already work two or more jobs.

The lack of full-time work is hitting them hard:
  • 31 percent have downgraded their lifestyles, in ways that included getting a cheaper car, smaller house or dropping cable TV.
  • 29 percent borrowed money from family or friends.
  • 23 percent suffered depression.
  • 22 percent moved back in with their parents.
  • 17 percent have high credit card debt as a result.
  • 14 percent experienced health issues.
This is a sign of a deep and persistent flaw in the economic recovery. Many new jobs have been in low-income or part-time positions. Too many positions being reported don't provide the economic benefit and security of the ones lost.

7 Million People Who Want More Work

According to the latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 7 million people, seasonally adjusted, who work part time -- less than 34 hours a week -- for "economic reasons." Another term for this group is "involuntary part-time workers." Although these people would prefer full-time employment, they either had their hours cut by their employers or were unable to find a full-time job. Focus on non-agricultural industries, and the number is still 6.9 million.

The total is down from 8 million in October 2013, which is certainly good news. But for the many millions still stuck in underemployment, it matters little. The respondents gave a variety of reasons (with multiple reasons possible) for why they couldn't find full-time positions:
  • 54 percent said there were fewer jobs in their fields than before the recession.
  • 51 percent didn't have the skills necessary for in-demand jobs.
  • 31 percent didn't look for full-time jobs on a regular basis.
  • 29 percent said they lacked the necessary education.
And yet, 27 percent of the people who couldn't find full-time work had at least a four-year college degree; another 8 percent had an associate's degree, 18 percent had some college and 7 percent had taken post-secondary school job-specific training. But 40 percent had a high school degree or less.

And whatever one thinks about unpaid internships, most of those part-timers stand ready to try one: 62 percent said they would be willing to work without pay for some period just to prove the value they could bring as a full-time employee.
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