clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

One piece of good news from the August jobs report

Need a reason to feel good about the latest jobs report? Here's one: The number of workers who are what the Labor Department calls "part-time for economic reasons" fell by a seasonally adjusted 234,000 from July to August, the Labor Department reported. That's a good-sized monthly decline added to an already strong downward trend.

Part time workers

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

That sharp decline at the very end is the July-August decline. And this decline appears in large part due to current workers seeing their situations improving. The Labor Department separates these involuntary part-time workers into two categories: people who couldn't find full-time work but wanted it and people who are part-time due to "slack work or business conditions," like getting their hours cut because of slow business.

The number of people who could only find part-time jobs in fact ticked upward by nearly 70,000. But the number working part-time because of slow business fell by 348,000. So even though the number of new jobs may have been disappointingly low, for some people who already had jobs, there was more work to be done (and more money to be earned).

Of course, put this all into a broader context and it's less inspiring and more daunting. The number of people working part-time against their wills is still far above where it was during better times. Today, nearly 7.3 million people are part-time for economic reasons, compared to the roughly 4 to 4.5 million in the years leading up to the recession.

Part-time workers since 2000

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.