operates Regal Cinemas and United Artists movie screens; a Five Guys franchise
owner; an Applebee's franchisee; the owner of Papa John's pizza chain; and a
Denny's franchise owner.
Darden, which owns the Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse chains, announced and then backed off from a plan to reduce full-time workers to part time after a swell of negative national reaction.
Publicized or not, the part-time trend has become common enough in the service industry that workers have given it a name: the "Obamadodge," said Mike Enriquez, a labor advocate who is active in the Kansas City area.
"It's happening across the board in retail, whether they announce it or not," Enriquez said.
A grassroots organization called the Retail Action Project earlier this year staged a protest outside a New York City store to protest the conversion of full-time to part-time jobs. The group continues to criticize national retailers for "part-timing" workers that had been full time.
Because of the impending Affordable Care Act requirement, Dennis Jacobe, chief economist for Gallup, said it's "not a surprise that employers appear to be seeking more part-time workers and fewer full-time employees in 2013."
That cutback in work hours isn't good news for employee pocketbooks, he said, or for the overall U.S. economy.
In a recent blog post on Gallup.com, Jacobe wrote: "Having a part-time job takes workers off of unemployment but may leave them under-employed," and may suggest the labor market is stronger than it really is.
Add in this job market reality:
Some of the biggest job growth in the past couple of years has been in industries with high percentages of part-time workers. That includes food service, retail, temporary help services, health care and other personal services. Most of these relatively low-wage industries have grown about three times as fast as high-paying occupations since 2007.
Health care reform isn't the only reason, of course, why workers' hours are being cut back.
"Global competition has pushed businesses to cut labor costs, either by boosting productivity with technologies that replace workers, or by cutting hours, wages and benefits to create a more 'flexible' workforce," blogged Benjamin Landy, a policy analyst with the Century Foundation, a liberal think tank. "Without strong consumer demand to drive hiring or unions to defend their interests, workers have little leverage in the global economy."
Economists also note that the rise of women in the workforce has pushed creation of part-time jobs, because that's what many mothers want.
Whatever the cause, there's no sign of a turnaround in the part-time trend. A national 2011 survey of employers by the McKinsey Global Institute found 58 percent of employers saying they would hire more temporary and part-time workers, and analysts expect the percentage to increase.
"Technology makes it possible for companies to manage labor as a variable input rather than a fixed one," the McKinsey report said. "Using new resource-scheduling systems, they can staff workers only when needed _ whether it's for a full day or a few hours. In our survey, more than half of employers expected to use more part-time, temporary and contingent workers in the years ahead."
The plethora of part-time employment is affecting the length of the average
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