Part-time. Temporary. Contract. Just-in-time. Two jobs. Three jobs. Even four.
It's the new normal for many in the American workforce.
Since the Great Recession and subsequent "jobless recovery," it's less likely than it used to be that you or your neighbor holds a single, full-time job.
Today, there are more people like
"One of the hardest parts is missing family," Wise said. "My children are 11, 10 and 8, and they know Daddy has to go to work every day."
Other drawbacks: It's hard to look for a better job when he's always working, Wise said. And he dreads getting sick or injured. He said he can't afford health insurance, and the last time he had a routine checkup was 14 years ago.
And there are more workers like
"I'm helping my kids with their college and other expenses," said the 46-year-old woman.
The harder part, Sanchez said, is the loss of family time. Her husband, a machine operator, works seven days a week on mandatory overtime.
"I don't remember the last time we went to church as a family," she said. "And we haven't had a family vacation for five years."
It's easy to see why the work world has changed. Stung by the depths of the economic downturn and uncertain about taxes, government spending and the consumer pocketbook, employers increasingly are choosing greater flexibility in hiring.
Because they're hesitant about adding full-time employees, employers are turning to a contingent, or just-in-time, workforce. It's easier that way to staff up or down and schedule work shifts precisely when needed.
A part-time or contingent workforce allows for more than efficient scheduling. Employers also save on benefits costs, which generally are paid to full-time employees but not part-time workers. It's a big savings: In many organizations, benefits account for 30 percent of payroll costs.
Post-2009, many employers also have cut or held the line on employee pay – effectively propelling some full-time workers to moonlight. Household living costs have risen, even if paychecks haven't.
These hiring patterns make sense for employers, but they're stinging job hunters and workers alike. Unable to find or replace full-time positions, workers have seen their household incomes dwindle along with self-confidence. The new normal finds MBAs scrambling for part-time work in the aisles of big-box retailers.
To be sure, this new normal suits some workers just fine. Juggling family care or school is easier when work hours are reduced or flexible.
Another contented part-timer is
"My cash flow is definitely down from my AT&T days, but that's OK," Railey said. "There's some enjoyment in doing so many different things."
Would he take a full-time job?
"I'm not averse to it," Railey said. But after a disappointing job search that began after he left AT&T in 2010, he's fine with his circumstances.
But for many, that kind of job juggling is hard. It rips into bank accounts, personal time and health. Involuntary part-timers repeatedly said they never imagined this is what their work lives would be. They thought their college degrees or their work experiences would insulate them from underemployment.
"If I didn't get a job, we wouldn't eat," said the 26-year-old
"It's a little heartbreaking, not to lie," Cobb said. "I thought I'd go to college, get a degree and the good job would come. Now, I'm working jobs that require high school equivalency. Not finding a job in my field is something we never counted on."
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