Low-Income and Low-Skilled Workers Involvement in Nonstandard Employment. Part-time Employment and Job Duration

10/01/2001

A number of quite interesting facts emerge from an examination of the evidence on part-time employment and job duration presented in Table 3.9. The first set of rows, for all workers, reveal that the rate of part-time work is much higher for workers in alternative work arrangements than those in regular employment, and job tenure is shorter. Although fewer than one in six regular workers works part time, more than one in five agency temps, and roughly one in two on-call workers work under 30 hours a week. Similarly, although nine in ten regular workers have been in their jobs more than six months, only slightly more than half of agency temps have been, and three out of four on-call workers. This has already been well documented by Polivka (1996a), and is not surprising, given the inherently transient and part-time nature of both temporary and on-call employment. It is interesting to note, however, that there has been no discernable change in this pattern over the past five years.

Table 3.9
Part-Time Employment and Job Tenure
(Weighted % Working Part-Time and with Tenure over Six Months and One Year)
Work Arrangement 1995 1997 1999
Part-Time Job Tenure Part-Time Job Tenure Part-Time Job Tenure
% Part-Time % More Than 6 Months %More Than One Year % Part-Time % More Than 6 Months % More Than One Year % Part-Time % More Than 6 Months % More Than One Year
All Workers
Agency Temps 21.4% 54.5% 38.8% 19.2% 57.6% 39.1% 20.6% 59.9% 43.6%
On-Call Workers 55.7 73.6 61.5 49.6 75.1 63.5 51.7 72.1 62.1
Regular Workers 16.9 90.0 81.5 16.6 89.9 81.8 15.7 90.2 81.6
Public Assistance Recipients
Agency Temps 22.8% 48.4% 37.4% 25.2% 54.0% 35.2% 29.3% 52.2% 32.4%
On-Call Workers 60.3 71.1 46.6 49.5 65.2 48.0 55.2 69.6 66.0
Regular Workers 24.3 81.0 67.4 23.2 82.4 69.7 23.4 82.7 69.4
Workers Below 150% Poverty
Agency Temps 26.2% 52.2% 39.1% 20.2% 44.7% 31.3% 26.0% 50.7% 29.0%
On-Call Workers 56.5 63.5 49.0 58.0 62.9 47.5 52.4 58.1 50.5
Regular Workers 28.5 75.5 59.9 29.5 78.0 63.7 27.9 77.5 62.3

Source: Current Population Survey, matched February to March.

When we turn to examine whether similar part-time patterns hold true for at-risk workers in alternative work arrangements versus at-risk workers in regular employment (the second and third sets of rows in Table 3.9), it is clear that at-risk workers are more likely to be part time than are all workers across the board, regardless of what kind of job they hold. However, this increased likelihood of part-time work is greater for at-risk workers in regular jobs than for at-risk workers in either temporary work or on-call work.

In keeping with this finding, it is also clear from Table 3.9 that job duration in general is also lower for at-risk workers in alternative work arrangements regardless of whether the comparison group is their cohort in regular work or all other agency temps. If we compare at-risk workers who are agency temps with at-risk workers who have regular employment, only about one in two at-risk workers who are agency temps have been in their job more than six months, while eight in ten at-risk workers who have regular employment have been in their job at least six months. If we compare at-risk agency temps to other agency temps, it is clear that the proportion of at-risk workers with job tenure greater than either six months or one year is generally less than other agency temps. All of these groups have much lower job duration than do regular workers in general, where nine in ten have a job that has lasted at least six months, and eight in ten have a job that has lasted at least one year.

Finally, there appears to have been little change in these patterns over time--there is little evidence of a trend in the data. Neither the rate of part-time work nor job duration has changed substantially--and this holds true both for all workers and for those at risk of welfare receipt.