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The Rise and Setbacks of Part-Time Work: Trends and Implications

Working part-time has become a popular option for many people for various reasons, such as providing extra income, gaining experience in a particular field, or having a flexible schedule that allows them to attend to other responsibilities. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the job market drastically, and part-time workers have been hit the hardest.

In this article, we will explore the general part-time job statistics and the reasons why people choose to work part-time.

General Part-Time Job Statistics

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 26.7 million part-time workers in the United States as of September 2020. This number has decreased significantly from pre-pandemic levels, where around 33 million Americans were working part-time.

This decrease is attributed to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, where many businesses have had to cut down on costs and reduce their workforce.

Reasons for the Decrease in Part-Time Workers

The pandemic has resulted in a decrease in part-time jobs due to various factors such as business closures and a shift towards remote work. The hospitality and retail industries, which are major employers of part-time workers, have seen a decline in business due to lockdowns and social distancing measures.

Additionally, the pandemic has led to a shift towards remote work, leading to a reduction of part-time jobs that require employees to be physically present in a workplace.

Reasons for Voluntary Part-Time Work

Aside from the pandemic-related issues, many people choose to work part-time voluntarily. One of the main reasons is to have enough time for other life priorities, such as caring for a child, pursuing further education, or pursuing a hobby or passion.

Part-time work can also provide a good work-life balance, which can help reduce the risk of burnout.

Top Reasons for Choosing Part-Time Work

According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most common reasons for choosing part-time work are balancing school and work, gaining experience, and taking care of family responsibilities. Many students choose part-time work so they can focus on their studies while earning some income simultaneously.

Some people may also choose part-time work as a way to obtain specific skills or experience in their desired career field. Additionally, many individuals may opt for part-time work to care for family members such as children, elderly parents, or a sick family member.

Part-time work offers great flexibility, which is another reason why it has become an appealing option for many people. It allows individuals to work fewer hours and still earn income while balancing other responsibilities or pursuing other opportunities.

This flexibility can also enable individuals to take up part-time or remote learning opportunities to further their education or career goals, which may not have been practical with a full-time job.


Working part-time is an employment choice that many people opt for, whether voluntarily or due to external circumstances such as the ongoing pandemic. While part-time work has offered many opportunities to balance life priorities and gain valuable experience, the recent decrease in part-time jobs in the US is a reminder of their vulnerability in the face of economic pressures.

However, despite these setbacks, the future remains bright for those looking to work part-time; it offers great flexibility and opportunities that may not have been possible with full-time work.

Part-Time Work Trends and Projections

Part-time work has become increasingly common in the past few decades. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in the early 1980s, only about 15 percent of U.S. workers worked part-time, while by 2020, the figure had risen to approximately 20 percent of the workforce.

Historical Trends in the Number of Part-Time Workers

Part-time employment has been on a steady rise since the 1980s. Historical data from the BLS shows that in 1980, about 17.4 million people worked part-time in the United States, or about 15.5% of the labor force.

By 1990, the number of part-time workers had grown to 21 million, or 17% of the workforce. Over the next decade, the number continued to rise steadily, reaching a high of 34.2 million in 2010, or 23.4% of the labor force.

Between 2010 and 2020, the number of part-time workers declined slightly to approximately 26.7 million.

Fluctuations in the Number of Part-Time Workers

The number of part-time workers can fluctuate based on seasonal trends. Certain industries, such as the retail and hospitality sectors, commonly require additional staffing during peak times like the holiday season or summer vacation.

According to the BLS, the retail trade and leisure and hospitality sectors are the two industries that often rely heavily on seasonal workers. Fluctuations in the number of part-time workers may also result from changes in the economy.

Part-Time Industry Statistics

Industries with the Highest Number of Part-Time Workers

According to BLS data, the education and health services sector had the highest number of part-time workers as of September 2020, with around 6.7 million employed on a part-time basis. This sector includes educational services, such as colleges and universities, and health care and social assistance services, such as hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities, and counseling services.

Other industries with a high number of part-time employees include:

– Retail Trade: Over 4.1 million people work part-time in this industry. – Professional and Business Services: Approximately 3.7 million people work part-time in this industry, which includes a variety of occupations such as administrative, support, and waste management services.

– Leisure and Hospitality: The sector employs about 3.1 million part-time workers in various industries, such as restaurants, hotels, and amusement parks.

Industries with the Highest Percentage of Part-Time Employees

Leisure and hospitality are the industries with the highest percentage of part-time workers. Approximately 60% of the workforce in this sector works part-time.

This sector can involve hourly jobs with irregular schedules and is often the basis for seasonal work. Other industries with a high percentage of part-time employees include:

– Retail Trade: Around 23% of workers in this sector are employed part-time.

– Educational and Health Services: The sector has a part-time employment rate of around 20%. – Professional and Business Services: Approximately 19% of the workforce in this sector is employed part-time.


Part-time work has become a more prevalent employment option for many Americans, and despite the fluctuations in the number of part-time workers, the trend of part-time work is projected to continue to grow. Industries that employ the most part-time workers include retail, professional services, and leisure and hospitality.

While flexibility is the main benefit of part-time work, it is essential to keep in mind that part-time work often lacks benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off. Nevertheless, this mode of employment is often an excellent option for those who need a flexible schedule or to balance their work and personal lives.

Part-Time Employee Statistics

Part-time work is a popular employment option for many workers, providing flexibility, reduced working hours, and additional earnings alongside full-time employment. In this article, we will discuss the median weekly earnings of part-time workers, the percentage of companies offering benefits to part-time workers, and the demographics of part-time workers.

Median Weekly Earnings of Part-Time Workers

According to the BLS, part-time workers earned a median weekly income of $256 in the second quarter of 2021, compared to the median income of full-time workers, which is roughly $984 per week. These figures highlight the wage disparities between full-time and part-time workers in most industries.

However, it is important to note that part-time workers often lack benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, or paid time off available to full-time workers. Additionally, the hourly rate of pay for part-time workers may often be higher than full-time employees’ hourly wage rate due to their limited benefits and part-time status.

Percentage of Companies Offering Benefits to Part-Time Workers

Companies may offer part-time workers an array of benefits that are typically restricted from their full-time counterparts such as vacation pay, paid sick leave, and healthcare. However, part-time workers are less likely than full-time workers to receive these and other benefits.

According to the BLS, as of March 2020, only 41% of part-time workers are offered medical and 38% dental benefits by their employers, while full-time workers have coverage rates of 71% and 63%, correspondingly. While certain states have extended the benefits to part-time employees, it is still not uncommon for part-time workers to lack several essential benefits of full-time employment.

Part-Time Work Demographics

Gender Distribution Among Part-Time Workers

Women make up a predominant proportion of part-time employees as opposed to men. As of September 2020, approximately 60% of part-time workers in the US were women, compared to 41% of full-time employees.

This gender disparity can be attributed to many factors such as caring for children, elder care, and higher rates of women working fewer hours to maintain a better work-life balance.

Age Distribution Among Part-Time Workers

Part-time work is popular among younger and older individuals. Data compiled by Randolph-Macon College shows that 54% of part-time workers in the US are under the age of 35, and another 19% are between the ages of 35 and 54.

Further, around 27% of part-time workers in the US are aged 55 and over. While the primary reasons for part-time work may differ by age, increased flexibility concerning scheduling is the common factor that unites this diverse group of workers.


Part-time work offers employment flexibility and can provide significant support to those that require extra income. Despite the availability of benefits like vacation pay and healthcare, part-time workers often experience pay disparities, particularly when it comes to median weekly earnings.

In many industries, the hourly pay rate of part-time workers is higher than that of full-time workers, but disparity lies within employee benefits. Women are over-represented among part-time workers, and the age bracket of part-time employees ranges from young to elderly.

Providing part-time workers with additional benefits and equivalent pay to their full-time counterparts can provide much-needed relief for these often-underrepresented members of the workforce.

Part-Time Job Statistics FAQ

Part-time work is a popular employment option for many individuals, providing flexibility and the ability to balance other commitments. In this section, we will answer common questions about part-time work, including its definition and characteristics, as well as the benefits and drawbacks associated with it.

Definition and Characteristics of Part-Time Work

Part-time work refers to employment where individuals work fewer hours than full-time employees. While there is no specific standard for the number of hours that constitutes part-time work, it is commonly understood to be anything less than the typical 40-hour workweek.

Part-time workers may have set schedules or work varying shifts, and their hours can range from just a few hours per week to almost full-time. Part-time work often offers flexibility, allowing individuals to pursue other responsibilities, such as education, caregiving, or pursuing personal interests.

The actual number of hours worked and the benefits provided can vary depending on the employer and industry. Some part-time positions still offer benefits like health insurance and retirement plans, but many part-time workers do not receive these benefits, making it essential to consider a job’s compensation package when seeking part-time employment.

Benefits and

Drawbacks of Part-Time Work

Benefits of Part-Time Work

One of the primary advantages of part-time work is its flexibility. Part-time employees often have more control over their schedules and can easily accommodate other responsibilities like childcare or pursuing further education.

This flexibility can greatly enhance work-life balance and reduce stress levels. Part-time work also allows individuals to gain valuable experience in a particular field.

It can serve as a stepping stone towards full-time employment or assist in career exploration. Furthermore, part-time work can provide supplemental income, making it an attractive option for those seeking extra earnings.

Drawbacks of Part-Time Work

One of the main drawbacks of part-time work is the potential for lower earnings compared to full-time employment. Part-time workers often earn hourly wages and may not receive the same benefits and compensation as their full-time counterparts.

This discrepancy in earnings can be a significant challenge when trying to make ends meet or support a family. Another drawback is the potential lack of stability and uncertainty associated with part-time positions.

Hours can fluctuate depending on the employer’s needs, making it challenging to maintain a consistent income. Additionally, part-time work may offer limited opportunities for professional growth and advancement.

Importance and Growth of Part-Time Workers

Part-time work plays a vital role in the economy, providing flexibility for employers and opportunities for individuals seeking employment. The number of part-time workers has been steadily increasing over the past few decades, reflecting changes in the labor market and evolving work preferences.

Part-time workers provide critical support in industries that experience fluctuations in demand or require seasonal staffing, such as retail, hospitality, and healthcare. They offer businesses the flexibility to adjust their workforce size based on changing needs, helping to enhance overall efficiency.

Factors Influencing the Choice of Part-Time Work

Several factors influence individuals’ decisions to pursue part-time work. The most common factors include:


Flexibility: Many individuals choose part-time work to achieve a better work-life balance and have more time for personal interests, family commitments, or educational pursuits. 2.

Financial Considerations: Some people opt for part-time work to supplement their income or earn some money while pursuing higher education or running a business. 3.

Lifestyle Preferences: Part-time work can be appealing for those who prefer greater flexibility or have specific requirements, such as the need to care for children, elderly parents, or individuals with disabilities. 4.

Career Exploration: Part-time work can allow individuals to gain experience in different industries or roles, helping them decide on their desired career path. 5.

Transitioning into Retirement: Many older adults choose part-time work as a way to transition into retirement gradually. It allows them to maintain an active lifestyle, social connections, and supplement their retirement income.


Part-time work offers flexibility and a range of benefits for individuals seeking employment. While it may come with some drawbacks, such as lower earnings and limited advancement opportunities, part-time work continues to grow in importance and popularity.

Factors like flexibility, financial considerations, and lifestyle preferences influence individuals’ decision to pursue part-time work. Understanding the characteristics and advantages of part-time employment empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their career choices and work-life balance.

Part-time work is a significant employment option offering flexibility and opportunities for various individuals. While the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a decrease in part-time jobs, the overall trend of part-time work has been on the rise.

Part-time workers earn lower median weekly earnings compared to full-time employees and often lack comprehensive benefits. However, part-time work appeals to many due to its flexibility and ability to balance other responsibilities such as education, caregiving, and pursuing personal interests.

It is important to recognize the gender and age disparities among part-time workers. With the increasing importance of part-time work, employers should consider offering equitable compensation and benefits to part-time employees.

The choice to work part-time is influenced by factors such as flexibility, financial considerations, and individual lifestyle preferences. Understanding the characteristics and advantages of part-time work allows individuals to make informed decisions and prioritize work-life balance.

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