Many people hold part-time jobs while attending school, while others pick up part-time work while they are home with young children or caring for an elderly family member. Many organizations have workforces that include full-time and part-time workers.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics defines part-time work as a job that includes between one and 34 hours a week. A job requiring 35 or more hours weekly is a full-time job. In 2011, 25.8 percent of the American workforce spent up to 34 hours per week at work, while the remaining 74.2 percent worked at least 35 hours weekly.
Many people who work in part-time jobs do not have full health benefits from their employer; full benefits are more common among full-time workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in March 2012, only 24 percent of part-time workers had the opportunity to receive medical care benefits from their employers, compared with 86 percent of full-time workers.
Part-time employment has a number of advantages. A common benefit is flexibility; if working 35 or more hours a week doesn't fit with your lifestyle, you can tailor a part-time job around your schedule. Another benefit is the ability to earn for students. Instead of relying on a parent to provide an allowance, for example, a high school student can hold a part-time job to save money for college. Postsecondary students can work part time during their studies to help pay for tuition.
The lack of medical benefits is a significant drawback of working part time, but another issue is that part-time workers make significantly less money than their full-time counterparts, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Part-time workers might face the challenge of having to pay for medical care despite their limited income. Other disadvantages of working part time include fewer chances for career advancement and less opportunity to have access to professions that offer higher pay, according to the EPI.
- U.S. Department of Labor: Labor Force Characteristics
- U.S. Department of Labor: Persons at Work in Agriculture and Nonagricultural Industries by Hours of Work
- U.S. Department of Labor: Employee Benefits in the United States -- March 2012
- U.S. News & World Report: Consider Pros and Cons of Working in College
- Economic Policy Institute: The Continuing Problems with Part-Time Jobs
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.