In a recent survey, three-quarters of part-time workers said that people collecting Social Security benefits should be able to earn more before being taxed.

In the study focused on part-time workers over the age of 50, 71 percent said adjusting Social Security benefits is the most important policy change the federal government could make.

The report from Rutgers University’s John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, based on US Census Bureau data and the center’s 2015 survey of part-time workers, compares the lives of those working part time by choice to those working fewer than 35 hours per week, often due to circumstances beyond their control.

“Older, involuntary part-timers have been out of work longer, enjoy fewer advantages typically associated with part-time work, and report considerable financial difficulties for themselves and their families compared to older, voluntary part-timers in America,” says coauthor Carl Van Horn, professor of public policy and director of the Heldrich Center at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.

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Less pay, less respect

The study found that 91 percent of those working part-time because they can’t find a full-time job are the head of their household. This older, involuntary part-time worker tends to be white, non-Hispanic, and earning less than $50,000 a year.

While 64 percent of workers say they would work part-time even if they did not need the money, 28 percent say they have no choice but to work. The remainder say they work because they enjoy being in the workforce and need the income. Of those surveyed, 25 percent said they retired from a full-time job, and 10 percent said they work part-time because they cannot find full-time work.

Those who are working part-time because they can’t find full-time work are two or three times more likely to have their work schedules changed, be given unwanted assignments, and receive less respectful treatment. Just one-fifth of involuntary part-time workers—18 percent of part-time workers age 50 and over—report the highest level of job satisfaction compared to half of the part-timers that choose to work.

Looking to retire

Overall, 32 percent of workers 50 or older say they want a full-time job. They are doubtful, however, that this will occur and say planning for retirement is difficult.

Sixty-four percent of them say it is somewhat or very unlikely that they could work full-time in their current workplace. Although 45 percent are at least somewhat optimistic about finding full-time work in the next year, 56 percent say the last time they worked full-time was more than five years ago.

While the advantages of part-time work—schedule flexibility, free time, opportunities to explore career options—are attractive to many, older involuntary part-time workers are less likely to capitalize on these possibilities.


This text is published here under a Creative Commons License.
Author: Steve Manas-Rutgers University
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