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More Workers Taking Second Jobs

Black Voice News, News Report, Chris Levister Posted: Apr 01, 2008

On a recent morning N'zinga Raoul of Moreno Valley reported at 8 a.m. to her full-time job in Corona where she earns $10.50 an hour supervising workers with mental and physical disabilities as they assemble kitchen appliances.

She moved effortlessly around a tangle of hoses and conveyor belts making sure her charges had enough parts, helped those in wheelchairs, re-ordered supplies and completed an overdue production report.

At 3:30 p.m. Raoul drove home to change into a red vest for her part-time minimum wage job as a cashier at a Riverside department store. Her 14-year-old son was studying and helping his younger sister with her homework. Raoul grabbed a slice of cold pizza and a bottle of water from the refrigerator and raced to her eight year old sub-compact car in the driveway.

"God, I forgot to hug them," she said fastening her seatbelt. "I'll make up for it when I get home tonight."

Raoul arrived home around 10:30 p.m. in time to say goodnight to the children and eat another slice of cold pizza before falling asleep on the sofa in front of the television.

She was scheduled to be back at her job in Corona at 8 a.m. the next day.

"I have no choice but to work a second job. I need the money," said Raoul, who emigrated from Haiti in 2001.

For many, the nature of part-time work is changing. Take the Inland Empire, a national epic center in the housing meltdown. Here more and more people are working part-time jobs for economic reasons, rather than by choice.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported last week that the number of people working part-time rose by 100,000 in February for the second month in a row bringing it to 4.79 million compared to 4.13 million a year ago, and the highest since 1993.

"Increasingly, part-time paychecks are going in gas tanks, grocery bags and helping defray healthcare costs," federal labor officials said. Some Inland homeowners, many of whom are teetering on the brink of foreclosure, are taking on second jobs to stay afloat.

Raoul works as many as 65 hours a week. Her Corona employer gives her a small gasoline allowance plus health and retirement benefits.

The booming part-time workforce is largely fueled by women, who have overtaken men to make up the majority of the multiple-job market for the first time according to a labor bureau study.

A big factor is the fast growing retail sector, which has felt more pressure to use part-time workers since many supermarkets and big box chains started staying open for extended hours in the 1980s and 1990s. Last month the sluggish economy created more part-time jobs than full-time jobs paying health and retirement benefits.

The part-time world is getting tougher, says U.S. retailer's biggest trade group, the National Retail Federation. To cut costs, many retailers are increasingly weighing their staff toward part-timers says Daniel Butler, vice president of retail operations. "A shift by more customers to night and weekend shopping has created an alternative job market for part-timers who are not paid benefits." While the booming part-time job market is a godsend for some it is an albatross for those who are holding those jobs out of necessity.

Part-time jobs typically pay 10 to 20 percent less per hour than comparable full-time work. Often they offer no health or retirement benefits and little job security, though some part-timers work as many as 35 hours a week.

Raoul has seen her transportation, health and food costs skyrocket and with no end in sight she's pondering yet another part-time job. Sometimes I have Tuesday and Wednesday off. Sometimes I only have one day off a week, she says, "It varies."

As the economy worsens, Raoul doesn't see her fortunes improving. "I don't see a magic bullet on the horizon. I'm taking what I can get. I pray my family understands. It's the only way I can keep gas in the car and food on the table," said Raoul.

"This reminds me of the hard life back in Haiti, no rest just work. I don't believe in going on welfare. So I have no choice but to work more."

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