The ABA Journal recently covered a story that was first seen in the Detroit Free Press about the ubiquity of part-time work in the United States.
The Detroit Free Press story focused on Derrick George, an attorney and business owner from Birmingham, Michigan. George recently hired Scott Neal, a new attorney who is currently working three part-time jobs.
"To make ends meet, newly minted attorney Scott Neal is working three part-time jobs. He’s practicing law in a Birmingham firm, keeping tabs on the North Oakland Family YMCA as a building supervisor and trimming trees. The 26-year-old can even show off the scar he got while sawing a branch."
The United States is becoming a nation of part-time workers as more employers want to avoid paying health care costs for full-time workers. "Nearly 1 million new jobs were created this year, but 80 percent of the positions were part-time. Involuntary part-time workers who are looking for full-time work or working multiple jobs make up more than 19 percent of the workforce, up from 17 percent in 2007."
"Derrick George, the lawyer who hired Neal, says that six out of ten of his employees are part-time, allowing him to avoid paying for health care and pensions. 'Today’s business environment is different,' George told the Free Press. 'This is the new normal.'"
As one ABA Journal commenter noted, "[e]mployers have been trying to find ways to avoid paying for employee benefits for as long as there have been businesses. This is just a new trick (and not that new), not a 'new normal;' the Wal Mart business model in a law firm mode."
Trying to cover basic living expenses on part-time work is not for the faint of heart. I generally held three part-time jobs throughout my late teens and all through my 20's to keep a roof over my head. I did not have health insurance for the entire period, and it was glum. I kept at it and was lucky to find a full-time academic law librarian position. And I have to say, it feels like my entire life changed. Obamacare will help take care of the health insurance part, but the part-time employment is still an issue -- one that I am not sure was fully considered with the passage of the Affordable Healthcare Act.