Occupation Spotlight, State of the Labor Market

Employers Shift Postings Toward Full-Time Jobs in Retail, Nursing

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As the labor market has tightened, employers in some sectors are advertising increased hours in new job listings in an apparent bid to attract workers.

As the labor market tightens, employers have several options for making jobs more attractive to job seekers. Many workers want full-time work but currently only work part-time, so shifting a job from part-time to full-time hours might be a fruitful tactic. Consequently, as demand for certain kinds of workers increases, employers might shift job postings toward full-time status and away from part-time status to attract more job seekers.

Two groups of occupations show clear and important trends in the kinds of jobs employers are posting. Job postings for nursing positions were more likely to be full-time in the first eight months of 2018 than they were during the same time period in 2016. At the same time, retail industry jobs are strongly represented among both the occupations with the largest declines in the part-time share of postings and the largest increases in the full-time share. However, for the overall US labor market, Indeed data don’t show a significant move toward full-time jobs and away from part-time postings.

Nursing jobs increasingly offer full-time hours

There have long been concerns about the long-term supply of nurses, given increasing demand for health services as the US population ages. But what Indeed data suggest is that this isn’t something that might happen in the distant future — employers are significantly changing jobs for nurses right now. Seven of the 10 occupations with the biggest increases in full-time share of postings are nursing jobs and seven of the next 10 are also nursing-related. The changes are quite significant, with more than three-tenths of postings shifting toward full-time jobs in five nursing occupations. This suggests employers may be running into a tighter supply of nurses earlier than expected and are changing the kinds of hours they are offering to entice job seekers.

The remaining three spots in the top 10 are jobs associated with retail, an industry that also pops up quite a bit in part-time postings trends.

Retail occupations lead declines in part-time posting share

The majority of the ten occupations with the largest declines in part-time share of postings are positions related to the retail industry. Retail employers appear to be shifting from part-time to full-time jobs as three of these positions — apparel associate, lead associate and sales consultant — are also among the occupations with the largest increases in full-time share of job postings. One complication though is that there isn’t always a one-for-one trade-off between the part-time and full-time shares of an occupation because some postings can be listed as both part-time and full-time.

Retail employment has suffered in recent years as traditional brick-and-mortar stores faced off against online competitors. Now though, many of these employers are trying to ramp up hiring but are having difficulty turning job openings into employees. That means they may have to change something about the jobs to attract candidates. The trends in Indeed data suggest that some employers are responding by moving away from posting part-time work. Interestingly though, some retail-related occupations saw an increase in their part-time share from 2016 to 2018, in particular the retail assistant manager role. However, while the level of the part-time  share of postings in this occupation is higher in 2018 than in 2016, the share declined a fair bit earlier this year.

As the labor market tightens, the mix of full- and part-time jobs may change

While demand for workers in retail and nursing positions may be changing, the overall mix of job postings has been fairly stable over the past two years. In fact, the share of jobs that are exclusively full-time declined slightly during 2016, but held steady in 2017 and has so far in 2018 as well.

Perhaps then the occupations described above are signs of what may come to pass. The share of workers in the labor force who are part-time but would like full-time work is at its lowest levels since 2006, before the Great Recession, but is still higher than in the late 1990s and early 2000s. With a large supply of jobs seekers looking for full-time work, employers may find increasing hours a necessary strategy in an increasingly tight labor market.

Methodology

For the occupational analysis, we looked at the percentage-point change in the share of postings that are exclusively full-time and exclusively part-time. We compared the first eight months of 2016 and 2018 in order to account for any seasonality in the Indeed data. We also excluded occupations that did not have on average 1,000 full-time postings per month in 2016 for the full-time analysis and 500 part-time job postings per month in 2016 for the part-time analysis.

To make sure the changes within occupations are indicative of shifts within the occupations, we ran a simple regression of the change in the part-time share of an occupation on the change in the full-time share. The relationship has a coefficient of -0.83 and is statistically-significant at the 1 percent level.

The occupations used in Indeed data can be quite narrow, so we did this analysis with larger groupings of Indeed occupations as well as O*NET occupational categories. The results are broadly similar. For example, the broader nursing category of Indeed occupations saw the largest increase in its full-time share of postings and nursing has the fourth-largest increase when looking at O*NET groups.

For the aggregate trend, we looked at the share of US job postings that were exclusively full-time and exclusively part-time for each month from January 2016 to August 2018.

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