Why do people choose part-time jobs?


The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) just released a report examining the reasons people choose part-time jobs. “Part-time jobs” are defined in the report to be any jobs where a person works 35 hours per week or less. These voluntary part-time workers are not looking for full-time jobs that would require them to work more than 35 hours per week. According to the report, voluntary part-time workers greatly outnumber part-time workers who prefer to have full-time jobs.

The report, titled “Who chooses part-time work and why,” looks at employment data from 1994 to 2016 in order to answer this question. It breaks down the data by age, gender, marital status, education level and race. It looks at the reasons that people give for choosing part-time jobs. It examines how the number of those choosing part-time jobs has changed over the 22 year time span it covers and how the reasons for doing so have shifted.

Who chooses part-time jobs?

An example of the sort of analysis in this report is given in the following figure which shows the difference in people taking voluntary part-time jobs by gender, marital status and race. The group least likely to voluntarily take a part-time job is white married men at 2.2 percent. However, among men, Hispanic men are the least likely to voluntarily take part-time jobs overall. Among women, white married women are the most likely to voluntarily take part-time jobs.

And why?

The report also explored the reasons why people choose part-time jobs. Among men, it found that the most common reason, at 37 percent, was school and/or training taking priority. The next most common reason, at 20 percent, was men whose job was considered to be full-time even though it involved less than 35 hours per week of work.

Among women, 28 percent cited family and/or personal obligations as the reason they voluntarily took a part-time job. Next, at 25 percent, was school and/or training taking priority.

Taken together, childcare problems and family and/or personal obligations was cited as the reason for taking part-time jobs by 8 percent of men but 35 percent of women.

In addition, the report looked at the wages of part-time workers by gender and age and also the age distribution of part-time workers. Please see the full report for details.