While the monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics data release makes it appear as though the U.S. employment situation is relatively healthy, millions of Americans would suggest otherwise.
Let's open with a graph that shows the number of jobs created (and lost) each month since just before the Great Recession took hold:
On average, since the beginning of 2010, the economy has created 175,559 jobs every month. Hurray, the unemployment crisis is over and all is well in the United States!
Now, let's look at a graph that shows the number of American workers who are working part-time (i.e. less than 35 hours per week) for economic reasons, that is, they want full-time work but can't find any because the economy simply isn't creating enough full-time jobs (i.e. they were underemployed):
That is not particularly healthy looking, is it? Over the decades from 1955 to the beginning of the Great Recession in December 2008, there were an average of 3.869 million American workers who were underemployed for economic reasons. Since the beginning of the Great Recession, the number of American workers who were underemployed has average 7.945 million, more than twice the number in the decades prior to 2008.
During the Great Recession, the number of underemployed Americans rose from 4.618 million in December 2007 to a peak of 9.216 million in March 2010, an increase of 99.6 percent. Since then, the number of underemployed Americans has dropped 6.85 million, leaving the level still 48.3 percent above its pre-recession level. In other words, if we compare the current number of underemployed Americans to the level just prior to the Great Recession, we find that there are still 2.232 million more American workers who are working part-time because they simply can't find a job than there were prior to the last economic contraction.
As we can see on this graph, as a percentage of all non-farm employees in the United States, the number of part-time workers who want full-time work is still extremely high and has shown modest improvement since the end of the last recession:
While the economy is creating jobs, it's creating the kind of jobs that pay relatively poorly and have no job security. As Gallup has noted, only 44.3 percent of American adults are employed full-time, excluding those who are self-employed and those who are out of the workforce. Those who are working part-time for economic reasons often find themselves in jobs that younger workers would normally filled, jobs that provide little opportunity to "get ahead". With the average duration of unemployment still at severely elevated levels as shown on this graph:
...it is unlikely that the situation for America's involuntary part-time workers will improve anytime soon.