Why Part-Time Employment Has Become So Popular Resources

It used to be that Americans able to work 40 hours a week for the same employer considered themselves lucky. Now, that full-timer dream may be giving way to something else.

In a recent Bloomberg story titled “Why 6 Million Americans Would Rather Work Part Time,” writer Jeff Green discusses the rising trend of individuals logging 35 hours or less per week totally by choice. The number has increased 12 percent since 2007, as many young, educated people opt to split their time between steady gigs and pursuits they’re more passionate about.

This has lead to a paradigm shift, says JPMorgan leader of workforce initiatives Chauncy Lemmon, as the workforce is no longer necessarily “organized around company.”

“The workforce of the future is organized around the worker,” Lemmon told Bloomberg. “If we can’t find the right people, it’s going to hurt our bottom line.”

That means businesses are creating and adapting jobs to meet the needs of individuals — young people who aren’t interested in toiling in careers they hate in hopes of the traditional “American dream.” As Green points out, many of these part-timers are 20- or 30-somethings who saw their parents lose their jobs during the Great Recession. They’re wary of committing to one employer, lest they suffer the same fate.

These growing legions of Americans who choose to cobble together piecemeal livings have led to the development of websites like SnagAJob, FlexJobs, and Working Not Working, which aim to connect freelancers with gigs matching their skill sets. There’s also the Freelance Union, which was founded in 1995 and now helps its 263,000 members coordinate insurance, retirement savings, and the like.

The phenomenon, says SnagaJob CEO Peter Harrison, essentially boils down to people seeing their ideal working week “as a cocktail instead of drinking it straight.” And that might be the preference for the foreseeable future. As Green reports, estimates suggest that a mere five years from now, 40 percent of the workforce will go the part-time route.


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