Chances are you know someone with a child who's either under-employed or desperately trying to enter the job market. These kids are ambitious and willing to work, and many have college degrees. But through no fault of their own, they're not finding full-time employment. Instead they are offered only part-time work.
With workweeks shortened to 30 hours or less, these young adults -- and many older people too -- are commuting to one, two or even three part-time jobs on a daily basis. They start their day at convenience stores or day-care centers, move on to a couple of hours at clothing outlets or restaurants, and their long grind may end with an overnight stint as a security guard.
Full-time employment, or the type of job where you work five-days a week, eight hours a day, receive a weekly wage and have medical benefits, is hard to find. So instead these "jugglers" are living at home -- and could be for quite some time.
When Obamacare (aka the Affordable Care Act) became law in 2010, healthcare experts and lawyers who read the 2,800 voluminous pages asked, "How will corporate America react?" After all, these companies were in unchartered waters in a very precarious predicament. If they violated the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) rules and regulations, many of which hadn't yet been clarified, they could face severe penalties.
But the question is already being answered. If you have to provide health insurance for full-time workers (a law pushed to Jan. 1, 2015), don't hire full-time workers.
Under the Affordable Care Act, a full-time employee is defined as someone who works an average of 30 hours a week.
Muddled middle class
Leaders of three major unions, including the Teamsters, have warned Congress that unless changes are made, the Affordable Care Act will "destroy the foundation of the 40-hour work week that is the backbone of the middle class." And this comes from unions that supported Obamacare.
Alain Sherter of CBS MoneyWatch points out that companies which used to hire full-time now have the sophisticated computers to match customer traffic with their available manpower. This enables them to call in workers for as little as three hours to meet demand.
Leave a workup call
In other words: Employees work, and work hard, but only when really needed. Workers are "on call" at certain times, and might not work unless the phone rings. This is a particular hardship on a single parent who has to quickly arrange childcare.
When called, they rush to their job for a few hours and then are told when their shift is over. This takes its toll on performance, as anyone who's seen the slowdown at the takeout window of a fast-food restaurant can attest to. You can only push people so hard for minimum wage and no benefits.
But employers don't seem to care. Their rationale: Part-time workers should buy their own health insurance. The employers will point these workers to the new state health exchanges due to start up by Oct. 1, where they can buy a minimum plan for a relatively cheap price. Which is actually good since these dead-end jobs don't pay much.
Some younger part-timers opt to remain on their parents' coverage until age 26, while others simply go without coverage -- and hope they don't need it.
But this doesn't take into account the damage done when careers are delayed. Previous generations usually found regular full-time employment within a few months after graduating college. But now important decisions, such as marriage and a family, which used to start in your mid-20s, will be postponed to your 30s, and not by choice.
In the meantime attrition in employment continues. While more people are finding work, unfortunately the jobs they are hired for are part-time, lower pay, and often with no benefits. Unless something changes, the "traditional" job could become a relic even for older full-time workers who will be forced to transition into part-time "contractors."