By Michael Hill
A typical lunch hour in New Brunswick as workers step away from their 9-to-5’s – some of them full-time employees but a growing number of them contract or part-time.
“What happens in a recovery which we’re going through right now, employers are reluctant to hire full time workers. So what we’ve seen in the recovery from the recession has been a reliance on temporary workers because they’re not really sure demand’s going to be there just to hire full-time workers,” said Rutgers Professor Carl E. Van Horn.
In 2000, part-time workers made up 19.4 percent of New Jersey’s total workforce.
In 2008, as the nation’s economy endured the Great Recession – part-time workers made up 15 percent.
Last year, they made up 21.6 percent of the work force.
Part-time work used to rise in recessions and go down in the recovery.
This growing trend of companies hiring part-time or contract workers seems to defy what usually happens after a recession and certainly after the Great Recession ended in June 2009.
“What we’re not really sure is whether this is the new normal or it’s a recovery pattern,” said Van Horn.
“Over the years contract labor and contract employment has really taken on a much different connotation,” said Scott Schnierer.
Schnierer is President of Paramus based Uniforce Staffing Solutions. He says part-time used to be seen as just a career between jobs.
“There’s a huge paradigm shift right now. Employees by the same token are looking at this contract employment as a useful tool to keep them sharp and keep working while the economy moves on,” said Schnierer.
Contract workers may be gaining more experience but in many cases Van Horn says they’re losing ground on benefits and peace of mind.
“They’re losing good sleep at night, usually that’s what they’re telling us,” said Van Horn.
That was one revelation of Professor Van Horn’s survey last year and his book, “Working Scared (Or Not at All)”.
“They’re worried and they can’t plan for the future, they may not be able to set down roots in a community, buy a house, know where children go to school all the things come with stability in their job,” said Van Horn.
Professor Van Horn says workers want stability and only a small percentage of his survey respondents like the flexibility of working part-time.