Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Undermining the Quality of Jobs in America:The Trend Toward the Part Time Work Force.

Let's face it, American jobs are much less rewarding and secure than those of our parents and/or grandparents. For one generation after WWII until approximately 1973 American workers, empowered through union contracts, achieved a somewhat harmonious balance with their employers. Good wages, benefits and expectations of job security were the norm there for a while.

In contrast, in addition to the fact that wages have not been/are not increasing in line with expenses despite increasing productivity and skyrocketing executive pay, today's employees are now viewed merely as factors of production, subject to the whim of their employer for the most part. Workers can be fired arbitrarily, forced to work off the clock,  forced to work as so-called independent contractors or part-time, etc.   American workers have truly become an afterthought or invisible. So, why, in the world's most affluent nation, are so many corporations squeezing their employees dry? The answer in a nutshell, greed.

According to New York Times reporter Steven Greenhouse, since 2006, the U.S. has cut a million full-time jobs while adding more than 500,000 part-time jobs. Eager to cut costs in a very competitive global economy, the explosion of sophisticated scheduling software make it simple for today's employers to align staffing to customer traffic, therefore making it easy to increase the use of part time workLower hourly wages, unpredictable hours, and few if any benefits make this trend anything but advantageous to workers.

“Over the past two decades, many major retailers went from a quotient of 70 to 80 percent full-time to at least 70 percent part-time across the industry,” said Burt P. Flickinger III, managing director of the Strategic Resource Group, a retail consulting firm.
Moreover, our national statistics underestimate involuntary part-time employment because they only ask if you work  35 or more hours per week. It doesn't matter whether or not that 35 hours is a result of one job, two jobs, three jobs or four jobs... if your hours add up to over 35 hours, you're classified as full-time.

The Affordable Care Act will only worsen this  part-time trend as employers do not have to pay that shared responsibility fee if their workers average fewer than 30 hours per week. Big incentive for employers to substitute part-time positions or full time.

The bottom line is that the fear of unemployment and the fear of falling back from the "middle class" into the ranks of the poor are being used by employers to take unfair advantage of working people. It's created an atmosphere of abusive treatment and total disrespect for working people that now permeates our society and the globe.  This increasing trend to part-time workers is of course, fueling the income gap/income inequality, funneling more profits and capital gains to those at the top.

About 50% of the population is now poor or near poor and there are not enough jobs to get them out of the hole. Gone are the days of earning a living wage with benefits.

A comment exchange from Zerohedge:
"I remember back in the 1970s that the futurists thought our biggest problem would be finding things to do with all our spare time, as computers were going to radically increase productivity and we'd all be working part-time. Of course they assumed that workers would see most of the benefit of that increase in productivity...
"Damn, I'm glad to see somebody else mention this. It was hugely accepted in the 60s and 70s that the benefits of automation would be shared throughout society and we would all be working fewer hours while also enjoying a higher standard of living.

But nobody imagined the kind of wealth accumulation that we see today. Nobody imagined something like a Walmart where one family acquires $100 billion in wealth on the backs of millions of minimum wage workers.

Also that was a more idealistic time. Back then we didn't know just how cold-blooded and greedy people can be. Most rich people are perfectly happy to put the screws down on workers and drive wages down below a subsistence level if it means they can buy a 10th luxery car or a 5th mansion or whatever. There are no limits to the greed of those who are already well off it seems.

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