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Nearly 28 million employees—almost one in five—work part time. Part-time employees are especially likely to be female and earn low wages. Millions of those in part-time jobs work part time not because they want to, but because they cannot get full-time work. Others have to work part time to accommodate school or family obligations. Part-time employees frequently make less per hour for the same work, lack access to important workplace benefits, are denied promotion opportunities, and are subject to abusive scheduling practices.

Who Are Part-Time Workers?

Women are especially likely to work part time.
• 27.6 million people work part time—nearly one in five workers (18.9 percent).
• Nearly two-thirds (64.2 percent) of those who work part time are women.  
• Women are twice as likely to work part time as men: 25.8 percent of all female workers are part time as compared to 12.7 percent of all male workers. 
• One in five part-time workers (20.2 percent) are women of color, compared to 16.2 percent of all workers. Part-time workers are especially likely to be in low-wage jobs and be poor.
• Part-time workers are more than three times as likely as full-time workers to hold low-wage jobs that typically pay $10.50 per hour or less (35.5 percent of part-time workers, compared to 10.9 percent of full-time workers). Nearly three-quarters (71.6 percent) of part-time workers in low-wage jobs are women.
• Nearly one in seven (14.6 percent) part-time workers lives in poverty, compared to 3.8 percent of full-time workers. Poverty rates for female workers are similar at 14.0 percent for female part-time workers and 3.8 percent for female full-time workers.
 
The majority of part-time workers are age 25 and older.
• Seven in ten (69.8 percent) part-time workers are age 25 and older, and only 12.1 percent are teens age 16-19.
• More than four in ten (43.9 percent) part-time workers are age 25 to 54—that is, prime working age. More than seven in ten (71.5 percent) part-time prime-aged workers are women.
• One-quarter (25.8 percent) of part-time workers are age 55 and over. Over six in ten (61.1 percent) of these older part-time workers are women. Many part-time workers are supporting families. 
• One-quarter (25.6 percent) of part-time workers have children under 18. Over eight in ten (82.1 percent) of these parents working part time are women.
• Almost three in ten (28.7 percent) mothers working part time are single mothers.
 
Workers with a disability are more likely to work part time.
• One-third (32.7 percent) of workers with a disability work part time, while only 18.4 percent of workers without a disability work part time.  
• More than one-third (34.2 percent) of working women with a disability work part time, compared to one-quarter (24.7 percent) of working women without a disability. 
 

Why Do People Work Part Time?

Millions of part-time employees work part time because the full-time work they are seeking is not available.
• One in five part-time employees (20.7 percent) work part time involuntarily—7.2 million people.
• Half (50.9 percent) of employees who work part time involuntarily are women.
• Women who work part time involuntarily are more than twice as likely to be poor as women who work part time for other reasons, and five times as likely to be poor as women who work full time: 25.1 percent of women who work part time involuntarily are poor, compared to 11.1 percent of women who work part time for other reasons and 5.0 percent of women who work full time.About three-quarters of workers who work part time do so for other reasons, including school or family obligations.
• Nearly three-quarters (73.2 percent) of people who work part time did so for reasons other than the unavailability of full-time work—reasons that the Bureau of Labor Statistics terms “noneconomic reasons.” Women are two-thirds (67.0 percent) of these workers.
• Employees who work part time for noneconomic reasons do not seek full-time work for a variety of reasons:  
o Five million workers who are part time for noneconomic reasons (25.5 percent) report working part time because of child care problems or other family or personal obligations. Women are seven times more likely than men to cite “child care problems” and nearly four times more likely than men to cite “other family/personal obligations” as reasons for working part time. While some of these workers may prefer to work part time, for others the “choice” of part-time work is forced by high child care costs, low wages, or inflexible and unpredictable work schedules.
o More than 5.7 million part-time workers (29.4 percent) report working part time because they are in school or training.
o Nearly 2.4 million part-time workers (12.1 percent) report working part time because they are retired or working to supplement Social Security benefits.

What Are Key Concerns For Part-Time Workers?

Pay and access to benefits are major concerns for those who work part time.
• Part-time workers were paid significantly less per hour than full-time workers in more than half (56 percent) of 324 occupations and earned more in less than four percent of these occupations, according to a 2007 study.  
• Part-time workers are far less likely to have access to employer-sponsored benefits. Just 22 percent of part-time workers have access to medical care 
benefits through their employer, compared to 88 percent of full-time workers. Full-time workers are more than twice as likely to have access to retirement  benefits than part-time workers (80 percent of full-time workers, compared to 38 percent of part-time workers). Full-time workers are also more than three times as likely to have access to paid sick leave than part-time workers (78 percent of full-time workers, compared to 26 percent of part-time workers).
• Women who work full time are more likely to be promoted than those working part time. A study of women across their careers shows that full-time workers are consistently more likely to be promoted than part-time workers.
• Part-time workers are more likely to have volatile schedules than full-time workers. Being part-time more than doubles the likelihood of having work hours that vary weekly. And among early career employees (age 26 to 32), part-time workers are more likely than full-time workers to receive their work schedule one week or less in advance: 48 percent of part-time early career employees receive their schedules with such short notice, compared to 35 percent of full-time employees.
• Part-time workers who lose their jobs face specific barriers to qualifying for unemployment insurance in many states, even if they have sufficient earnings to otherwise qualify for benefits. Jobless workers who are only available for part-time work are ineligible for unemployment insurance in 21 states; another 20 states permit eligibility for workers who are only available for part-time work only if those workers have a history of part-time work.