Worldwide, part time employment growing faster than full time

Tuesday, April 04, 2006 at 05:26 PM

I've mentioned before my suspicions that part time and temporary employment growth is what's behind the statistics that the government tries to pass off as "good news" about employment.

It turns out that, at least as far as part time employment goes, someone has been collecting rough but worldwide statistics for a 10-year period.

This link takes you to A Chartbook Of International Labor Comparisons: The Americas, Asia, Europe -- January 2006.  Click on section 2.7 of the chartbook outline to go to a chart titled Average annual growth rates in full-time and part-time employment, 1994-2004.

It turns out that only 6 of the 19 industrial countries represented there saw "full time" employment grow faster than part time employment, even though they defined "full time" as "persons usually working over 30 hours per week in their main job."  Many countries had wildly better part time growth than full time growth, and a few (Germany, Austria, Japan) actually saw full time employment drop over this period.

Using those definitions, the U.S had 1.5% full time growth, and .7% part time growth. But remember that in the U.S., 30 hours is not considered full time by traditional measures.  So the U.S. stats might well show more part time than full time growth if we defined full time as the old 40-hours a week standard.

What would you give to hear one honest, direct description of what's really going on in American employment?

And how in the world can the Dept. of Labor justify conducting extensive telephone interviews to determine the unemployment rate--using questions that identify who worked at all, who's actively looking for work, who's passively looking for work, etc.--yet not collect and publish the info that would really describe the employment situation:

--how many hours a week people worked
--who was on temp jobs
--who was on part time jobs
--how many people were deemed "out of the work force" because they only sought work passively (i.e., by checking want ads, online job banks, etc)
--how many people were deemed "employed" despite not receiving money for their work

I highly recommend asking your elected federal representatives that question.  And asking it in letters to the editor, etc.