An NYT article noted that people are more likely to work at home now than in the early part of the last decade and that this is reducing energy usage. Near the end, the piece included this paragraph:

"In addition, between 2003 and 2012 the number of part-time workers in the United States almost doubled, from 4.6 million part time workers to 8.3 million, many of whom are involuntarily part-time workers. “The number of people who are spending time at work is going to go down because you’re sort of swapping out a full-time worker for a part-time worker,” said Dr. Simon. That may be good for energy use, but not necessarily so great for the employee’s wallet."

The problem is choosing 2012 as an endpoint. The labor market has tightened considerably since 2012. The percentage of workers who report working part-time because they could not find full-time jobs is the same now (3.5 percent) as it was in 2003.

Strangely, the piece ignores the much larger number of workers who choose to work part-time. (The workers say they choose to work part-time, that's how we know.) In the most recent data, this number stood at 21.1 million workers or 13.9 percent of the labor force.

This is also roughly the same as the share in 2003, but the endpoints conceal an important pattern. Voluntary part-time had dropped considerably until 2014 when the main provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The number of people choosing to work part-time rose from 18.9 million in 2013 to 20.9 million last year, an increase of 10.6 percent. This is presumably due to the fact that people were now able to get insurance without working at full-time jobs.



I thought I would add the link to our paper showing that the rise in voluntary part-time is almost entirely among young parents, the people who we would expect health care insurance to be most important to. Also, just to give numbers here, taking averages for the last three months (single month data is erratic) the number of people reporting that they are working part-time for non-economic reasons rose by 291,000 from the last three months of 2011 to 2012, then fell by 38,000 the following year. In the first year the ACA was fully in effect it rose by 1,043,000.