Why does Part-time Employment Increase in Recessions? Jobs can Change Quickly from Full- to Part-time Status, Especially during Economic Downturns

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The share of workers employed part-time increases substantially in economic downturns. How should this phenomenon be interpreted? One hypothesis is that part-time jobs are more prevalent in sectors that are less sensitive to the business cycle, so that recessionary changes in the sectoral composition of employment explain the increase in part-time employment. The evidence shows, however, that this hypothesis only accounts for a small part of the story. Instead, the growth of part-time work operates mainly through reductions in working hours in existing jobs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number397
JournalIZA World of Labor
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


  • Part-time work
  • Involuntary
  • Business cycles

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