Less than 9 to 5

Part-Time Workers and the Policies to Help Them

Too many Americans are working too few hours for too little money. As federal, state, and local policymakers debate everything from minimum wages to budgetary goals to global trade policy, more attention has been appropriately focused on those left behind in the economic recovery. Among them are the 27 million part-time workers in America – while the country's overall employment rate has fallen, many remain stuck in part-time jobs. For older workers and those with child care obligations, a part-time schedule can be an advantage. For others, there is a greater need for full-time work and benefits.

Will America's economy of the future leave younger and lower-income individuals and families with fewer options for ensuring secure livelihoods? Where do current trends stand on the state of part-time work in America? In an age of simultaneously increasing flexibility and vulnerability, how are workforce and wage trends impacting families? What role can policymakers play in pursuing the objectives of both national economic prosperity and individual economic security?


Katherine Zoepf was a fellow in the Better Life Lab at New America. She is the author of Excellent Daughters: The Secret Lives of Young Women Who Are Transforming the Arab World

David Gray was a senior fellow at New America.