All of the Increase in Part-Time Jobs in 2013 is Due to the Changing Employment Patterns of Women

The household employment data from Friday’s BLS Jobs Report reveal a surprising and distressing pattern.  The full-time employment of women has declined by 119,000 (about one-quarter of one percent) between December 2012 and July 2013 (based on the seasonally adjusted series).  In contrast, the part-time employment of women has surged since December 2012.  The employment situation has been quite different for men, however.  Full-time employment of men has increased by about one half million since December 2012 while part-time employment has dropped slightly.

While it is true that for men and women combined more than three-quarters of employment gains in 2013 are from part-time jobs, this is due only to the changing employment patterns of women.  The surge in part-time employment in 2013 is due to women shifting from full-time to part-time jobs.

Many pundits have surmised that the shift from full-time work to part-time work in 2013 is a consequence of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).  If this hypothesis is true, Obamacare has had a much bigger impact on the employment patterns of women than men.  This is consistent with the notion that women’s labor supply is much more elastic (price responsive) than men’s and that women are employed disproportionately in jobs and sectors where part-employment is a viable alternative to full-time work.

The following table presents the data for employment changes in terms of number of jobs as well as percentage changes from the BLS household survey.

Group

Change in Employment December 2012 to July 2013

Percentage Change in Employment December 2012 to July 2013

Women Part-Time

+597,000

+3.43%

Women Full-Time

-119,000

-0.24%

Men Part-Time

-36,000

-0.35%

Men Full-Time

+504,000

+0.77%

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