Involuntary part-time work up during the recovery

There’s been a lot of discussion, criticism, and defense to Gov. Paul LePage’s economic record thus far.  One of the larger criticisms is that while the state’s unemployment rate continues to dip, as noted by some, Maine has the 5th highest rate of involuntary part-time work.

(click images to enlarge)

PTE 2014

Unsurprisingly, that rate has increased since the start of the recession:

PTW 2007

However, the rise in part-time work in Maine has continued even as the economy and labor market have improved.  The state’s labor market started to turn around in 2010:

State_and_Nation_(SA) (2)

Since then, Maine is just one of 10 states to experience an increase in the percentage of workers involuntarily working  part-time.

PTE 2010 to 2014

Couple this with poor labor market indicators for the prime age working population as well as overall stagnant wages, and the labor market is weaker than the recently published unemployment rate of 5.5% would suggest.

One thing to note regarding some of the criticism of the LePage Administration and nominal job growth.  Nominal job growth is not necessarily a good indicator of labor market health because it does not account for changes in population.  Using employment-population rate*, we see that Maine’s labor market has fared better than most states:

State change emp-pop

Job growth in Maine has been stagnant for over the past decade.  In fact, Maine has created jobs in each of the past 6 quarters–the first time that has occurred since 2001:

Moreover, job loss during the recession can impact the “strength” of the recovery.  In other words, a state that experienced a steeper decline in jobs is likely to experience a steeper increase in jobs during the recovery.  For instance, compare Maine and Nevada, where the latter has experienced faster job growth since 2010:

However, looking at changes in payroll jobs from the start of the recession we see that at least part of the reason Nevada’s :


*It is important to highlight the fact that the employment-population rate and payroll jobs are derived from two separate surveys that comprise the monthly job report.  For more on those differences see here.

John Haskell

About John Haskell

John graduated from the University of Southern Maine with a degree in Political Science, and from the University of Maine School of Law. He has worked in both the public and private sectors, and currently, works with a small business services company in the Mid-Coast area.