Part-time Employment in Household Survey Data

In this section, I use data on part-time employment in the Current Population Survey (CPS) to highlight several facts about part-time work.

  1. Part-time for economic reasons is volatile and countercyclical, and co-moves with unemployment.
  2. Part-time for economic reasons is not persistent, and is characterized by high flow probabilities back to full-time employment and to unemployment.
  3. Fluctuations in part-time employment arise largely from within-employment (to and from F T or P T N) instead of between P T E and non-employment (unem­ployment, U or nonparticipation, N ). Further, part-time employment transi­tions primarily occur within job rather than from job-to-job transitions.

These facts are important for understanding the mechanism through which cyclical movements in P T E arise. Particularly, I make the case that these fluctuations in part­time employment for economic reasons are driven primarily by firm-level demand or “slack work and business conditions” as opposed to coming from workers’ search and job-finding behavior (“failure to find a full-time job”).