Is trend toward part-time work the new normal?
While it's true the economy is improving, it's no secret that since the Great Recession many of the full-time jobs that were lost during that period have yet to come back. In fact, many of these positions have morphed into part-time situations, forcing a lot of people to juggle two and even three jobs just to survive.
In New Jersey, there are double the number of involuntary part-time positions since the start of the recession, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor.
"The trend we're seeing with more and more part-time workers may well reflect a structural change rather than the cyclical impact of the Great Recession," said James Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.
The global economy is changing faster than ever, according to Hughes, and many companies do not want to hire for the long-term because their businesses change so quickly.
"The new model is to assemble teams of employees and contract workers. Companies want to have a team of people they can use, but not lock themselves in to 20-year employees," Hughes said.
After World War II, according to Hughes, the country went through a period where all our economic stars were in full alignment.
"We've come to think of that as what should be normal, but we may well be moving back into what is a more sustainable, new normal situation. It makes everybody have to be on their toes and be able to adapt to new situations," Hughes said.
And while some companies are struggling with the rapidly rising cost of health care, this is not a driving factor in why we're seeing so many part-time workers.
"I think it's much more due to the way the work world is now being structured. The way the economy is constantly evolving, the way business models are shifting. It's a small but growing proportion of the workforce - they work multiple part-time jobs, but almost all would prefer to work full-time if they could." Hughes said.
One question that needs to be asked, according to Hughes, "is whether the economy can provide the full-time jobs that are really required?"