February 19, 2020

Part-Time Work Becomes Full-Time Wait for Better Job

In March, 7.6 million Americans who want more hours were stuck in part-time jobs, about the same as a year earlier and three million more than there were when the recession began at the end of 2007.

These almost invisible underemployed workers do not count toward the standard jobless rate of 7.6 percent. A broader measure, which includes the involuntary part-timers as well as people who want to work but have stopped looking, stands at 13.8 percent.

“There’s nothing inherently wrong with people taking part-time jobs if they want them,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial in Chicago. “The problem is that people are accepting part-time pay because they have no other choice.”

Even for those who have been able to take advantage of the better job market, the opportunities have not been good. Since the economy began to recover almost four years ago, hiring has been concentrated in relatively low-wage service sectors, like retailing, home health care, and food preparation, and in contingent jobs at temporary-hiring companies. For example, nearly one out of every 13 jobs is at a restaurant, bar or other food-service establishment, a record high.

Household incomes have been stagnant throughout the recovery, and actually fell in the latest report, according to Sentier Research. As a result, economists and policy makers have been expressing concerns about not only the pace of hiring but the quality of new jobs as well.

“It’s important to look at the types of jobs that are being created,” Sarah Bloom Raskin, a member of the Federal Reserve Board, said in a recent speech. “Those jobs will directly affect the fortunes and challenges of households and neighborhoods as well as the course of the recovery.”

While increases in part-time and temporary work can sometimes be an early sign that employers will soon take on more permanent hiring, many workers have been trapped in such jobs far longer than they had anticipated.

Part-time work rose rapidly in the recession and early parts of the recovery, and it has not let up much. Today, 19.1 percent of workers say they usually work part time, defined as fewer than 35 hours a week, versus 16.9 percent when the recession started.

Essentially all of the gains in part-time employment have been among people who are reluctantly working fewer hours because of slack business conditions for their employer or an inability to find a full-time job.

“It was a relief just to find something,” said Amie Crawford, 56, of Chicago. After four months looking for a new job as an interior designer, which she had been for 30 years before the recession, she accepted a position as a part-time cashier at a quick-service health-food cafe called Protein Bar.

She keeps asking for more hours, but her manager’s response is always the same.

“He tells me, ‘I try to give you as many hours as I can, but everybody wants as many hours as they can,’ ” Ms. Crawford said.

The owner of the company, Matt Matros, said that it was working on giving her more hours, but that each location had a limited need for cashiers. He added that Ms. Crawford had the opportunity to get trained in other skills if she wanted to advance or take on other positions.

Holding a part-time job when a full-time one is desired is frustrating for workers, and not only because fewer hours means less income. Like temp workers, part-timers are also less likely to get benefits and are more likely to be stuck with unpredictable schedules that make it hard to plan for child care, transportation or even a second part-time job.

“I’ll be on the schedule from this time to this time, so I expect to work from this time to this time,” Ms. Crawford said. “But because on a particular day, who knows, it’s snowing, raining, or people just didn’t come in today for whatever reason, they start cutting people. So I get sent home in the middle of my shift.”

Part-timers also generally earn less per hour than their full-time counterparts.

“The only remaining legal form of discrimination in the labor market is against part-time workers,” said John Schmitt, senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a liberal research organization. “You can hire part-time workers and full-time workers doing the same job, and you’re allowed to pay them different money and different benefits.”

There are multiple reasons for an increased reliance on part-timers, primarily continuing low demand and uncertainty about the economy.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/20/business/part-time-work-becomes-full-time-wait-for-better-job.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

You’re the Boss: Oh Baby Answers Its Chicken-and-Egg Question

Fran FreeCourtesy of Oh Baby FoodsFran Free

She Owns It

Portraits of women entrepreneurs.

Last summer I wrote about Fran Free, founder of Oh Baby Foods. She faced the start-up’s classic chicken-egg dilemma. She wanted to land a large contract with a major retailer, but lacked the resources to fulfill it, partly because she worked out of a leased restaurant kitchen, where her maximum output was 300 cases of organic, locally sourced baby food a year. On the other hand, she couldn’t ramp up production without the promise of some much-needed business. Oh Baby’s 2010 monthly sales were about $2,000. While its customers are devoted, the company has not turned a profit.

A lot has happened in the last year. For starters Ms. Free, formerly known as Fran Gunsaulis, got divorced and now uses her maiden name. Along with her 3-year-old daughter, she moved to downtown Fayetteville, Ark., from a nearby rural area and held a few part-time jobs to stay afloat after putting her savings into Oh Baby.

Ms. Free also made big changes within her company. She took readers’ advice and scrapped her time-consuming meal-delivery service. Several commenters pointed out that she desperately needed funding. One, SirWired, suggested she find an investor or throw in the towel. Ms. Free, who took no salary from June 2009 to June 2010, realized he had a point. “Last fall, I came really close to putting Oh Baby to bed for awhile,” she said. But just when the company’s prospects seemed bleakest, she said, “the clouds parted and the sun came out.”

While attending a Chamber of Commerce event, Ms. Free ran into two Oh Baby fans, a couple who bought the food for their daughter and who had previously expressed interest in investing in the company. Back then, Ms. Free had turned them down, determined to go it alone. “My need wasn’t so great at the time because I still had personal funds to put into the business,” she said.

With those funds gone, she accepted their offer to lend the business $100,000 at 5 percent interest for five years (the first six months of the loan term are interest-free). At the end of the five years, the couple, who are not professional investors, will have the option to buy 10 percent of the company. Ms. Free deposited their check last month.

The money allowed Oh Baby to contract with a manufacturer. Ms. Free has answered the chicken-egg question by opting to increase production, which will begin in September. She hopes — and has reason to believe — that contracts with major retailers will follow.

Since my last post, she has gotten her products into Whole Foods in Little Rock, Ark., and  Tulsa, Okla., through the chain’s local forager program, which enables small retailers to bypass the longer, more complicated approval process required of foods sold regionwide. With sufficient sales data from those locations, Oh Baby will be positioned to present the line to the Southwest regional buying team, which purchases for 22 stores. Oh Baby is also sold in seven Harps stores and in several independent retailers.

Another big change is planned. Oh Baby is sold in the freezer section, in cartons that hold three rigid plastic cups. Shoppers must know to look for it there, instead of on the shelves with most other baby foods. But now that Oh Baby can meet the minimum volume requirements of a contract manufacturer, another relatively new packaging option is available that will allow the company to sell food in shelf-stable pouches. “When I started out, manufacturers weren’t really using the flexible pouch, so my options were jar shelf-stable or frozen, which is better nutritionally,” said Ms. Free.

On Nov. 13, Oh Baby plans to introduce a line of shelf-stable food. At that time, the frozen variety will no longer be available. Ms. Free is refining her new ingredient lists and recipes. She said Oh Baby will be certified organic this year.

Ms. Free also took the advice of a frequent commenter, Dominick Celentano, who urged her to learn more about the retail business. Toward that end, she has taken a part-time job with Horizon Marketing, a natural products broker that represents 40 food, body care and supplement lines to retailers regionally and nationally. “It’s the perfect job, because it lets me see how the process works,” said Ms. Free. Her responsibilities include setting up in-store demonstrations for the product manufacturers who want to get onto retailer shelves and maintaining Horizon’s database.

She realized that Oh Baby could use Horizon’s services as well and hired the broker to help get the line into retailers and to represent it in all chains and independents where it is sold in the region. “If and when the time comes, Horizon will also represent me nationally,” she said.

You can follow Adriana Gardella on Twitter.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=fdd1330b4f9d04712ef1b6b007463d4b

Economix: Podcast: Creating Jobs, and Juggling Them

The budget deficit has been grabbing many of the headlines and much of the attention in Washington. But it’s a distraction. There’s a more immediate economic problem.

So says Robert Frank, the Cornell economist, in the new Weekend Business podcast. Mr. Frank, who elaborates on this position in the Economic View column in Sunday Business, says that trimming the deficit is indeed necessary and important, but that it’s a long-term problem. For the short term, with the unemployment rate still stuck at 9.1 percent, putting people back to work is far more crucial, he says. And because increased employment would generate more national income and more government revenue, he says, failing to take action now is like setting a national bonfire and burning hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods and services.

He suggests instituting a payroll tax holiday through 2012 as a politically acceptable way to stimulate the economy and create more jobs.

Juggling multiple jobs has always been a skill that writers, artists, actors and other creative people have had to master just to make ends meet, but in the weak American economy, many other people have had to learn this art, too. In a conversation in the podcast, Hannah Seligson tells Phyllis Korkki that this is particularly true for recent college graduates, many of whom have had great difficulty landing appropriate full-time employment.

In a cover article in the Sunday Business section, Ms. Seligson says that while holding several part-time jobs simultaneously may be needed to bring in enough income now, it often results in diminished earnings over the course of a long career. And part-time jobs rarely provide benefits like health care coverage, adding to the difficulties of those who manage to hold down more than one of them.

The global economy is still reeling from the effects of the subprime mortgage problems of 2006 and 2007, as Gretchen Morgenson says in a separate podcast conversation. When those mortgages began to go sour, the downturn in mortgage and asset-backed securities markets blossomed into both a full-blown housing crisis in the United States and a financial crisis throughout much of the world.

As Ms. Morgenson writes in her column in Sunday Business, a settlement has now been reached involving Morgan Keegan, a company with mutual funds that held securities based on these troubled mortgages but that failed to tell investors how risky those funds actually were, according to regulators.

Morgan Keegan, based in Memphis, reached the $200 million settlement with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, state securities regulators and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Investors lost more than $1 billion in the funds, though, and arbitration cases are continuing, Ms. Morgenson says in separate conversation in the podcast. Morgan Keegan neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing in the settlement.

But she says that regulators described a detailed pattern of misleading investors and of changing fund valuations in order to prevent losses by the fund company.
In the news section of the podcast, I also discuss several other big developments. They include the decision of the United States and its allies to release strategic oil reserves into the global market, and the continuing efforts to contain the debt crisis in Greece.

You can find specific segments of the podcast at these junctures: Gretchen Morgenson on Morgan Keegan (30:11); news headlines (22:16); Hannah Seligson on multiple jobs (17:56); Robert Frank on unemployment (11:45); the week ahead (2:35).

As articles discussed in the podcast are published during the weekend, links will be added to this post.

You can download the program by subscribing from The New York Times’s podcast page or directly from iTunes.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=f260b27ff304e980ee5b924682dbe1e5