PART TIME EMPLOYMENT

The opponents of Obama-care just will not give up. Just because all of their claims of disaster over the last few years have been proven wrong they continue to repeat every claims that they think does not make them look foolish.

The latest example is John R. Graham of the Independent Institute who claims that Obama-care is hurting employment because of rising part time employment.

But I would suggest he really ought to look at the data.  Part time employment has a very strong cyclical pattern.

It’s share of employment rises sharply in recession and declines in recoveries.

A major part of this cyclical swing is driven by changes in employment in different sectors.  For example, the average workweek in retail is 30.1 hours, almost exactly where it has been for decades. In leisure and hospitality it is 25.2 hours and in education it is 32.0 hours, where they have been for decades.  But in manufacturing the average workweek  is 42.1 versus 39.7 at the recession bottom. In construction it is now 39.6 hours as compared to 38.8 hours at the recession bottom. So when the cyclical downturn causes employment in the strongly cyclical like manufacturing and construction while employment in the industries that traditionally use a lot of part time employes remains relatively stable the share of part time employees in total employment rises sharply.  This is why the chart shows that part time employment’s share of total employment rose sharply in the Reagan and Bush recessions.  It is also why part time employment share of total employment has fallen under Obama — it is a perfectly normal cyclical economic pattern.

(chart below the fold)

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The commentary by such people as John R. Graham is a beautiful example of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing. The researchers at the right wing think tanks scour the economic releases for anything that they can spin to sell their point of view.  But for the most part they do not really understand what they are writing.  But of course, their target audience knows even less than they do so they buy the right wing research tanks assertions  hook line and sinker.  I really do not have a major problem with the general public being mislead by such shoddy research– that is what politicians do. What I really object to is the reporters from major newspapers repeating this  biased research without any understanding of why it is wrong.

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