Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Increase in Part-Time Employment: John Lott Versus Sane Individuals

Greg Mankiw has updated his post which originally fell for some spin from John Lott:
So far this year there have been 848,000 new jobs. Of those, 813,000 are part time jobs
This Lott claim that 96% of the new jobs added this year were part time drew a lot of fire in the blogosphere but of course none of it appeared in the comment section of Greg’s blog as there is no comment section. Then again – we didn’t have to endure Mary Rosh praising Lott’s “work”. Partial credit to Greg for eventually putting forth a couple of sane discussions of this issue including something from the Council of Economic Advisors:
New data out today in the Bureau of Labor Statistics Monthly Employment Report show that of the increase in employment since the Affordable Care Act became law, more than 9 out of 10 positions have been full-time.
The notion that less than 10% of new positions since ACA became law have been part time stands in very sharp contrast to the spin put forth by Lott. Greg didn’t mention this headline conclusion but did reproduce the CEA’s second graph (part-time employment as a share of total employment for selected groups) and then suggested:
This shows that part-time work is notably higher than it has been historically for prime-age workers with little education (no more than a high school degree). Whether this is just due to a weak labor market or other more structural changes is an open question.
But let’s read what the folks at the SF Fed had to say about this:
Part-time work spiked during the recent recession and has stayed stubbornly high, raising concerns that elevated part-time employment represents a “new normal” in the labor market. However, recent movements and current levels of part-time work are largely within historical norms, despite increases for selected demographic groups, such as prime-age workers with a high-school degree or less. In that respect, the continued high incidence of part-time work likely reflects a slow labor market recovery and does not portend permanent changes in the proportion of part-time jobs.
In short – never trust anything written by John Lott before doing a little checking with more honest and sane people who actually understand the topic at hand.

5 comments:

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Lott really is out to lunch on so many grounds and issues. I gather that there is really a lot of noise in the month to month data on part time employment, with looking at it closely seeing just nonsensical patterns. I don't have the link, but I think Dean Baker has shown this in detail. In any case, it is really bizarre that Mankiw would be so naive as to believe something as silly as that 96% of the new jobs would be part time.

spencer said...

Be sure and read what I wrote at Angry Bear that over 100% of the 2013 increase in part time work was federal government workers forced to work part time because of the sequester.

spencer said...

Mankiw quotes someone by the name of Strong to get the point that 96% of new hires were part time.

But what strong did was calculate the change from Jan to Aug of this year and called it the y/y difference. But in recent years the seasonal adjustment of part time workers has been inadequate and even the seasonally adjusted data
shows a sharp drop in Jan part time employment. At no time does a single observation from last year enter Strong's calculation of the year over year difference.

It is a completely spurious number that has no basis in fact.

spencer said...

Sorry, you are right it is Lott not strong.

Jason Villegaz said...

Having a part time job is better than being unemployed where you are reliant on an income protection quote to get by.