In a Thursday report on why many Americans are still unimpressed with the U.S. job market, Associated Press reporters Christopher Rugaber and Josh Boak made a rare admission that “Finding a steady full-time job has become harder” than it was before the recession.
The AP pair then contended that “the trend might also reflect a lasting shift among restaurants and coffee shops,” but found an “expert” who only acknowledged that such employers are trying to be more careful in their spending. Although they mentioned Obamacare as a reason why pollied Republicans are dissatisfied with the economy, Rugaber and Boak never cited the healthcare law as a possible factor in the significant move to employ part-timers, even though Investor’s Business Daily has compiled a list of 429 employers “with strong proof that ObamaCare’s employer mandate is behind cuts to work hours or staffing levels.” Excerpts follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
AS US JOB MARKET STRENGTHENS, MANY DON’T FEEL IT
For millions of workers, happy days aren’t quite here again.
Though the U.S. unemployment rate has plunged since the start of last year to a five-year low of 6.1 percent, the Gallup Organization has found that consumers’ view of the economy is the glummest it’s been in seven months.
The July jobs report being released Friday will likely show a sixth straight month of healthy 200,000-plus gains. 
… As the economic recovery enters its sixth year , a number of factors help explain why many Americans don’t feel better off: Income hasn’t rebounded. Millions are working part time even though they want full-time jobs. It’s taking longer to find work.
… Most people are still earning less, adjusted for inflation, than before the recession struck at the end of 2007. Even many who kept their jobs through the recession – or easily found work after being let go – are no better off. The typical family income in current dollars is $52,959, according to Sentier Research. Factoring in inflation, that’s $3,303 less than before the recession – a nearly 6 percent drop. 
… “Wages are just not keeping up,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project. “We don’t have an economy that is as robust as we need it to be.” 
… Finding a steady full-time job has become harder.  There are 27.4 million part-time jobs, representing 18.8 percent of jobs in the U.S. economy, according to the Labor Department. Before the recession, 16.5 percent of all jobs were part time.
Some of this increase is due to the still-sluggish recovery: Employers want to cut costs and payrolls by limiting their workers to fewer than 35 hours a week.  But the trend might also reflect a lasting shift among restaurants and coffee shops, said John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo.
“A lot of companies have figured out that they didn’t need employees to sell coffee between 2 and 4 p.m. that nobody is buying,” Silvia said.
 — 200K-plus in monthly job gains beats some of the alternatives, but it’s only “healthy” if you forget about the millions of workforce dropouts. Yesterday, in the ADP Jobs Report conference call, economist Mark Zandi predicted that this level of job growth will finally get the economy back to what economists define as “full employment” in “2-1/2 to 3 years.,” or as long as eight years after the recession’s official end — if there isn’t another economic slowdown.
 — “As the economic recovery enters its sixth year” … wow. You know things are messed up when you’re talking about a six-year “recovery.” As I showed in a column posted elsewhere today, this “recovery” is not just the worst since World War II. Its first four years (3Q09 through 2Q13) were actually worse than the recovery during the Depression-Era 1930s.
 — The AP pair might have noted that this sustained real income drop is unprecedented, at least since World War II.
 — Too bad the National Employment Law Project is an advocate of solutions which would make the economy worse, and certainly not “as robust as it needs to be.” NELP favors raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour national, and has supported local efforts to make it $15. They’re one of the sponsors of the “Raise the Wage” challenge, which acts as if a typical minimum wage worker has only $77 a week to live on, which is rubbish.
 — As noted earlier, there’s no acknowledgment of Obamacare’s role in this, despite IBD’s accumuliated examples, and despite occasional establishment press reports citing the healthcare law as a factor in employer part-time staffing decisions.
 — Actually, the Obamacare definition of a “full-time employee” is 30 hours or more per week. Obamacare-affected employers are keeping their part-timers’ work weeks below that level.
Data at the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that the economy still has 3.6 million fewer full-time jobs than it did at its November 2007 peak nearly six long years ago. Since the point they were trying to make was that “finding a steady full-time job has become harder,” the AP pair should have cited that stat.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.