NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Employing part-time workers is one of the fastest-growing trends in the U.S. economy, although many economists would argue it's a trend that's bad news for those workers and the economy.
Either way, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says the number of employees willing to work part-time has risen by 80 percent, to to 7.9 million, since 2006.
On a statewide basis, part-time work is off the charts. California, for example, has seen its part-time "involuntary" employment figures swell by 126 percent over the same period, to 1.3 million. Florida and Nevada report similar figures.
The trend is all about cost savings to companies. The vast majority of part-time workers don't qualify for health care benefits and retirement plans, and that saves companies from having to pay for those costs, says Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin, president and CEO of internal communications agency Tribe, an Atlanta employee culture and engagement services firm.Cogswell Baskin says that recent changes in health care laws are moving many industries, including hospitality and retail, toward hiring part-time workers instead of full-time ones. Many companies are even cutting part-time workers' hours to 29 hours a week "to avoid paying health insurance required of those working 30." "Because of those reduced hours, employees may be forced to take on two or more part-time jobs," she says. What are part-time staffers getting out of the deal -- aside from 15 or 20 hours of work per week? And what do they want from their employers to keep them engaged, productive and reasonably happy?