Derek Thompson: Here’s What Obama’s ‘Part-Time America’ Really Looks Like
Like a bad summer-pop earworm, some economic ideas get stuck in our heads for no good reason and refuse to go away. Take, for example, the remarkably durable myth that Obama has presided over a “part-time economy,” where full-time work has been devastated by his relentlessly anti-capitalist policies. The Atlantic has done our best to bust this myth, but there’s no killing some summer earworms, and so, like a particularly terrible Top 40 DJ, here comes Mort Zuckerman, spinning the old track on the Wall Street Journal op-ed page. It’s impossible to briefly sum up Zuckerman’s argument—”The Full-Time Scandal of Part-Time America”—which is a collage of bad stats and randomly drawn lines of causality.
Derek Thompson (@DKThomp) July 14, 2014
The gist is that the U.S. economy only makes part-time jobs now, and Obamacare is hastening the demise of full-time work. The easiest way to fact-check the claim that part-time work is rising is to measure Americans working part-time who want to work full time—i.e. “for economic reasons.” 1) Most people working part-time want to work part-time because they’re in school, or they’re raising kids, or they consider themselves mostly retired. Don’t pay attention to anybody who’s using the number of stay-at-home dads and moms to argue that Obamacare is destroying full-time work. The president’s critics love this talking point. But since 2010, full-time jobs are up 7.6 million, and part-time jobs have declined by more than 900,000.