Downsizing The 9 To 5

Nov 5 2012 @ 10:16am

The NYT recently noted the growth of part-time work in retail. Walter Russell Mead bets that this trend will continue, but he doesn't necessarily see that as a bad thing:

Assuming a strong labor market in which part time workers are decently compensated, a world of part time and flexible jobs can make a lot of sense for workers. The daily ritual rush hour commute of tens of millions of people moving in lockstep toward nine to five jobs over gridlocked transit and highways systems is very far from the best possible way to organize our lives. Parents, children caring for elderly parents, handicapped workers, older people looking to supplement fixed incomes, artists and entrepreneurs launching their careers: all of these people can benefit from a more flexible working world.

McArdle is concerned:

The entire workforce cannot be–like most students, housewives, and retirees–supported by someone else's full time job.  Fifteen or twenty hours a week on a retail salary is not enough to support anyone.  And because the shifts are so variable, you can't do what people used to, and string two or three part time jobs together.  Retailers penalize those who block off a lot of time as unavailable by giving them fewer hours.