- Part-time workers experience an adjusted hourly wage penalty of 29.3% compared to similarly situated full-time workers, according to new research by an Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and Penn State economics professor, Lonnie Golden. After adjusting for industry and occupation, part-timers are paid 19.8% less than full-timers.
- The research showed that the pay gap for part-time workers is even greater when benefits are factored in, adding up to a 25.3% penalty. The adjusted wage penalty is worse for men than for women, and for white male workers compared to workers of color. EPI notes this difference likely reflects "white male workers' advantage in wage rates at full-time jobs."
- "While some workers prefer the time flexibility that part-time working provides, more than 4 million U.S. part-time workers still would prefer to work a full-time job and likely many others who are working part time for non-economic reasons would also prefer full-time work if they did not have constraints like the lack of support for family caretaking and pursuing education," Golden said in a media release.
While part-time scheduling has been touted as a potential form of flexible work, most part-time workers would prefer full time work if they could find it, according to a report from the job platform Indeed and data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor. The Indeed report showed that since the 2008 recession, fewer people work part time now and those who chose to work part time don't plan to do so for the rest of their career.
Some employers are making up the difference by offering improved benefits to their part-time workers. Target expanded its benefit offerings, including emergency childcare, to both full-time and part-time workers in June 2019, while grocery retailer Lidl announced in October 2019 that it was offering part-time workers medical benefits. Lidl US Chairman Roman Heini explained the company's reason for extending benefits to part-time employees in a statement: "We want our team to have the peace of mind knowing they have healthcare coverage. Giving team members working part-time at Lidl access to medical benefits is incredibly important and it will help them succeed."
Lawmakers have begun to examine the issue, too. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., announced in December the introduction of a bill that would extend protective scheduling, leave and retirement benefits to part-time workers. The Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights Act also would require companies with more than 500 employees to offer available hours to part-time employees who are available, current and qualified before hiring new workers and to compensate employees if they fail to comply.