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Growing Number of Workers Can Only Find Part-Time Work

Mike Groll
Associated Press

Washington state’s economy is recovering, but a growing percentage of workers can only find part-time jobs, and that is shutting many of them out of employer-based health insurance.

Most recent data show that part-time workers make up about a quarter of Washington’s private-sector workforce, and a growing number of them would like full-time work but can't find it. Most part-timers don’t get health insurance through their jobs, according to analysis by the Seattle-based think tank Puget Sound Sage.

David West, executive director of Puget Sound Sage, says this is a trend that began before the recession hit but has continued even now that the economy is recovering.

"Profits have come back to many large American employers in the last year or two. What we’re not seeing is we’re not seeing a return to full-time work or offering benefits to employees who used to get it," West said.

West says one reason is the increase in health care costs over the last few years. Employers are shifting more of those expenses onto employees or just limiting their hours so they no longer qualify at all.

West says many employers are also looking ahead to when the Obama health plan kicks in for them in 2015. Businesses above a certain size will have to offer insurance to employees who work more than 30 hours a week. So he says some employers are cutting workers down to part-time to avoid that rule. 

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.