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April 08, 2003
More Laid-off Professionals Work Part-time

The number of laid-off professionals forced to work part time because of economic reasons is an aspect of the employment market that doesn't get the amount of attention that the unemployment rate does. But these part-time workers, who aren't counted as unemployed by the Labor Department, are growing in numbers, the Houston Chronicle reports.

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While the unemployment rate remained at 5.8 percent in March, the department's monthly employment report showed, 4.7 million workers took part-time positions because they did not secure full-time opportunities. This number, in addition to the 474,000 discouraged workers (those who stopped looking for work), offer a sobering perspective of the jobs market, according to the newspaper.

The newspaper notes those two groups of workers and the 8.5 million unemployed Americans produced a labor "underutilization" rate of 10.8 percent in February, compared with 10.1 percent a year earlier, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The lack of full-time work has many Americans working part time at retailers and in schools as substitute teachers, but some job seekers and counselors are saying the part-time jobs are becoming harder to find.

Home Depot tells the newspaper the company will hire 178,000 people this year, but the company will receive 1.5 million to 3 million applications for those positions.

"It's not that easy these days," says Joe Maguire Dooley, a job counselor in Illinois. "You have to start thinking about part-time jobs the way you used to do full-time jobs."

Workers tell the newspaper that while the part-time jobs provide some income, they still are concerned about money issues.


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