Part-Time Work

June 12, 1987

Report Outline
Special Focus


They are known by a variety of names—moonlighters, temporaries, part-timers, free-lancers, and leased or contract workers. Whatever their label, the American workers who hold less than full-time employment constitute a closely watched sector of the nation's labor force, accounting for almost a fifth of the total. As service industries—where part-time work is more prevalent than in manufacturing—take on the role of “job machine” for the U.S. economy, experts are wondering what the future holds for workers, whose careers and lifestyles could be fundamentally altered if part-time work became an integral part of the American work place. Some experts think there are signs that such a trend is under way.

For example, the morning newspaper, once delivered by the next-door neighbor's child, may now be carried instead by an adult part-timer. According to the International Circulation Managers Association, about 72 percent of the nation's newspaper companies currently engage the services of adult independent contractors who buy the papers at wholesale and then establish and collect their own delivery fees. Elsewhere, male and female “temps” placed by Kelly Services, one of the giants of the temporary work industry, today do everything from product demonstration to telemarketing. In an earlier era, when the firm went by the name of Kelly Girl Services Inc., its workers were primarily women engaged in such tasks as clerical work, stenography, bookkeeping and accounting.

This is the first of two reports on employment trends. Next week's report is on small business.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Work Week
Jun. 12, 1987  Part-Time Work
Feb. 28, 1973  Leisure Business
Apr. 19, 1972  Productivity and the New Work Ethic
Aug. 11, 1971  Four-Day Week
Dec. 09, 1964  Leisure in the Great Society
Jun. 13, 1962  Shorter Hours of Work
Feb. 17, 1960  Sunday Selling
May 08, 1957  Four-Day Week
Dec. 03, 1954  Shorter Work Week
Mar. 05, 1948  Hours of Work and Full Production
Jul. 05, 1944  Hours of Work After the War
Nov. 16, 1942  Hours of Work in Wartime
Jan. 17, 1936  The Thirty-Hour Week
Mar. 10, 1932  The Five-Day Week and the Six-Hour Day
May 23, 1929  The Five-Day Week in Industry
Labor Standards and Practices
Retail Trade
Unions and Labor-Management Relations