Unemployment numbers don't factor part-timers looking for full-t - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Unemployment numbers don't factor part-timers looking for full-time work


This week University of South Carolina economists announced great news for South Carolina: Unemployment is down and job growth is on the rise.

But not everyone in the job market is finding the career they're looking for and that's concerning to economists.

Economists predict unemployment will continue to fall in 2014 as industries expand and more jobs become available. But one area of the economy that hasn't improved since the recession: the number of people working part-time jobs because they can't find full-time work.

Around 70% of people working part time jobs in South Carolina are doing it because they can't fine full time work.  And that number is climbing.

"That's jumped up to 90% in 2013. Most of that jump occurred between 2007 and 2009. But its remained high and hasn't seen any appreciable decline," said USC research economist Joseph Von Nessen.

Currently one in five jobs across the nation is part-time and that number hasn't changed since the height of the recession.

"In previous recessions, it would've come back down by this point," said Von Nessen.

"You're limiting your expenses, you're not able to go out there and spend in the economy and it has a multiplier effect," said Sue Berkowitz with the Appleseed Legal Justice Center.

At least one industry that relies heavily on part-time and seasonal workers actually grew this year. The tourism industry grew more than 4% in the third quarter of this year.

"When you see growth in that area, you're going to see growth in those types of jobs," said USC economist Doug Woodward. "We need broad-based recovery across many different sectors. Leisure and hospitality helps but we need finance, construction. The more diverse across different sectors of the economy, the healthier we are."

Economists worry the Affordable Care Act, if fully implemented, could have an impact on the number of part-time workers starting in 2015.

"A number of employers have very candidly said, 'We're going to cut people's hours so we will not be in a position to offer insurance.' I think that goes to show why we need to expand Medicaid. A lot of those employees would not be high paid employees, so they would  be eligible for coverage under the Medicaid expansion," said Berkowitz.

So far, just 2,761 South Carolinians have signed up for health care through the government exchange web site.

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