In this brief, author Rebecca Glauber reports that, although unemployment overall has returned to its pre-recession level, involuntary part-time employment is still much higher than it was before the Great Recession began--a trend that raises questions about the continuing ability of the economy to deliver employment security to people willing and able to work. Involuntary part-time employment is down 34 percent since the Great Recession but is still above its pre-recession level. If the involuntary part-time employment rate continues this pace of decline, it will not return to its pre-recession level until 2018, a full nine years after the official end of the recession. Racial disparities persist. Since the recession, involuntary part-time employment declined by over 30 percent for white, Asian, and Hispanic workers but by less than 20 percent for black workers. Among workers with less than a high school degree, 9 percent work part time involuntarily, compared to just 2 percent of college graduates. Involuntary part-time workers are more than five times as likely as full-time workers to live in poverty. As the economy continues to recover, Glauber recommends that the complexities of involuntary part-time employment and disparities in the recovery are explored.

Publication Date

Spring 3-28-2017


National Issue Brief No. 116


Durham, N.H. : Carsey School of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire

Document Type



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