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More U.S. Part-Timers Find Full-Time Jobs

Bloomberg (01/09/12) Homan, Timothy

An increasing number of U.S. workers are moving from part-time to full-time jobs. While the number of people putting in a full week rose to 113.8 million in December, the most since February 2009, 8.1 million worked fewer hours because they could not find a full-time job, the least since January 2009. “It’s what will traditionally happen when the job market overall is beginning to improve,” says Tig Gilliam, chief executive officer of Adecco Group North America.

The underemployment rate, which includes part-time employees who would prefer a full-time job, dropped from 16.4% to 15.2%. “By moving into more permanent positions, you get a more productive work force,” says Michael Gapen, a senior U.S. economist at Barclays Capital Inc. “It makes labor more valuable and that means moderate wage growth, even with the unemployment rate at 8.5%. That translates into better consumption momentum entering this year.”

Gilliam says his industry “is still seeing double-digit growth in permanent placements and conversions” from part-time and temporary to full-time employment. “When the market gets that much better, the direct hiring accelerates even more,” he says.