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Full-time workers, rejoice! Jobs are coming back

December 5, 2014, 5:24 PM UTC
Employers Post Most Job Openings In Four Years In June
A "now hiring" sign is viewed in the window of a fast food restaurant in New York City.
Photograph by Spencer Platt—Getty Images

November was a great month for job gains. The U.S. economy added 312,000 workers, well beyond the 230,000 economists were expecting. And 2014 has been the best year for job gains this millennium.

More jobs in general is a positive, but economists and policy makers also care about the type of jobs being added to the economy. And there’s some good news on that front as well. Most of the new jobs added since late 2011 are full-time positions.

On the other hand, the number of part-time jobs, while still elevated compared to pre-recession levels, have remained steadily (or stubbornly, one could argue) around the 14 million mark.

There’s been much worry that the U.S. economy is transforming into a part-time workforce, particularly given the big jump in the contingent workforce this past June. But, the trend isn’t bearing out.

The overall number of part-time workers, defined as those working fewer than 35 hours a week, has remained consistent. Meanwhile, the population of workers with part-time positions for economic reasons—meaning, those workers who would prefer to have a full-time gig—has been trending downward over the past several years.

This is all good news, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Full-time jobs still haven’t caught up to where they were before the recession.

November was a standout month, with a string of gains. The news has met much of the Federal Reserve’s expectations of a gradually improving labor market, though Janet Yellen and her team will surely be watching carefully to make sure this trend continues into 2015.