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The number of part-time workers fell to the lowest level in 21 years

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The number of Americans who want to work full-time but are forced to work part-time fell to a more than 20-year low in June, according to federal data released Friday. the power of the labor market and the bargaining power of workers.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there were 3.6 million workers “employed part-time for economic reasons” in June, down 707,000 from the previous month. monthly work report.

This is the lowest level since August 2001. respectively to historical data compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

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The Department of Labor classifies people as “economically part-time workers” when they prefer full-time work but are forced to work part-time because their employer is cutting back or they can’t find a full-time gig.

“We’re seeing a pretty sharp decline, and I think that’s a very healthy sign for American workers,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at employment website Glassdoor.

Prior to the pandemic, the number of involuntary part-time workers had dipped below 4 million only twice in the past two decades, in July 2019 and in March and April 2006, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Strong labor market

The decline comes after other federal jobs data released on Wednesday showed that employer demand for workers remained near historic highs, meaning the momentum leaned in favor of employees.

Vacancies and the number of people who quit their jobs at the end of May were close to the peak levels set in March, and layoffs remained near an all-time low. Meanwhile, wages are rising at their fastest pace in decades as employers scramble for talent.

“I think it’s a case of employers realizing that they can’t afford to have a bunch of part-time workers because they’re going to lose them to full-time workers,” Zhao said of the reduction in forced underemployment. timers.

“Given the choice, many of these part-timers will seek better opportunities elsewhere,” he added. “So, naturally, employers are under pressure to offer full-time to part-time workers.”

“Major Milestone”

The decline in June also came as the overall labor market remains a bright spot in the U.S. economy, despite fears of a recession on the horizon, economists said.

Businesses added 372,000 jobs last month, beating expectations and continuing a strong pandemic-era recovery.

If the current trajectory of job growth continues, the U.S. would have fully recovered the 22 million jobs lost during the pandemic in August. In June, the private sector fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels, which US Labor Secretary Marty Walsh called an “important milestone” on Friday morning.

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