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November 2000     Vol. 1, no. 2

Part-time by choice

Katherine Marshall

  • In 1999, almost one in five workers (2.7 million) spent less than 30 hours per week at his or her main job. Voluntary part-time workers-those who chose the work arrangement and reported not wanting full-time work-numbered 2 million, about 14% of total employment and 73% of part-time employment.
  • A full 80% of voluntary part-time workers were young men (15 to 24) (18%) or women under 55 (62%). Only 43% of full-time workers fell into these categories. While almost all youths reported school attendance, and all older workers (55 and over), preference, as the main reason for working part time, those 25 to 54 gave a variety of reasons. Women cited preference (45%) and family responsibilities (44%), while men cited preference (44%) and school attendance (26%).
  • In 1999, some 93% of full-time workers were in a permanent job, compared with 86% of voluntary and 74% of involuntary part-time workers. Similarly, average hourly earnings were highest for full-time workers aged 25 and over ($16.00), second highest for voluntary part-time workers ($14.50), and lowest for involuntary part-time workers ($12.00).
  • Roughly 4 in 10 full-time workers said that work caused them stress, compared with just one in 10 part-time workers. Also, more part-time than full-time workers were satisfied with the balance between job and home: 83% versus 72%, respectively.
  • The bulk of the increase in part-time employment resulted from growth in part-time work across all industries. Almost one-third came from a shift toward the service sector, traditionally an area high in part-time work.


Katherine Marshall is with the Labour and Household Surveys Analysis Division. She can be reached at (613) 951-6890 or

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