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Young people seek part-time work, more flexibility, survey shows
FlexJobs recently surveyed 211 people under age 35 who want part-time work. Their answers about why they'd like to work part time, and how they would make it financially, were interesting. - photo by Greg Kratz
The last few weeks have reminded me, yet again, that I really need more hours in every day.

Actually, now that I think about it, an extra day every week would be nice.

Work has been busy as my team recently kicked off some new projects, and I've been preparing for my annual budget hearing. My wife was, and still is, heavily involved in end-of-the-school-year activities, and our children have been busy, too. Our oldest daughter took a bunch of major tests in high school, while our three younger children had activities like field trips and band concerts on their schedules. Our two younger daughters are playing softball, so several evenings were taken up by games.

And that's just the major stuff. There's also plenty of work to do in the yard. (The rain we've received lately has been wonderful, but it's turned my lawn into a jungle.) And then our clothes dryer stopped working, so we needed to scramble and take our clothes to my in-laws' house to dry them.

I know these are primarily "First World problems," but they do make life hectic.

So when I received an email about a new survey that showed many millennials would prefer to work part time instead of full time, I thought, "Yeah, doesn't that sound nice!"

Not realistic, perhaps. At least not when you're trying to support a family of six. But still, nice.

Anyway, back to the survey. FlexJobs, an online service for professionals seeking telecommuting, flexible-schedule, part-time and freelance jobs, surveyed 211 people under age 35 who want part-time work. Fifty-seven percent of the respondents are currently full-time employees, while 15 percent are unemployed.

When asked what their ideal work situation would look like, 40 percent said they would work part time for one employer, while 33 percent wanted part-time work with freelancing on the side.

Again, I can see how the idea of working part time would be attractive. Just think how much easier it would be to get that lawn mowed in a timely fashion if I only had a 20-hour workweek! But I wondered how the millennials in the survey thought they could make their plans work financially.

According to the FlexJobs survey, 49 percent said a spouse's income would allow them to pursue part-time work. Another 32 percent said part-time work would cover all of their bills.

I keep encouraging my wife to write a series of best-selling novels I'm talking J.K. Rowling-level best-sellers here so I can switch to part-time work. In fact, with Harry Potter-esque money rolling in, I probably wouldn't work at all. But even though I know she has the talent to produce such magnificent prose, she hasn't found the time yet. Sigh.

As for part-time work covering all of their bills, I'm guessing those responses were from people who don't have children. According to FlexJobs, 68 percent of respondents to the survey are child-free. Once the kiddos come along, life gets considerably more expensive.

Health care is one major expense category for families these days, so the FlexJobs survey also asked those millennials who are craving part-time work how they get their health insurance.

It turns out that 37 percent said they were covered by a spouse's insurance, while 28 percent were covered through a union or other organization, 9 percent had coverage through the Affordable Care Act and 4 percent received insurance through their parents. The remaining 22 percent said they didn't have insurance.

I was a bit surprised at the percentage who said they were uninsured, but I don't want to get into a political discussion.

I will say that, for many people I know, health insurance benefits are still a major reason to seek out a full-time job. I would be extremely nervous if I didn't have insurance for my family, and I'm glad my employer helps to make it affordable.

However, I'm not a 20- or 30-something. Opinions often change as a person gets older.

But back to those millennials. For those who thought part-time work was the way to go, FlexJobs asked what they would do with their extra time. Those who took the survey could give more than one response, and the top vote-getter, at 55 percent, was "spend quality time with loved ones." That was followed by "pursue a creative passion" (39 percent); travel (38 percent); go to school (32 percent); volunteer (29 percent); take care of their health (29 percent); and take care of a child or children (29 percent).

Strange that yard work and laundry didn't make the cut there. Hmm.

Not surprisingly, part-time work wasn't the only form of flexibility of interest to the millennials in the survey. Sixty-seven percent said they valued having a flexible schedule, 60 percent valued working remotely all the time and 44 percent valued working remotely some of the time.

I do agree with the millennials on this. A flexible schedule seems to be something many workers are seeking. Working from home now and then is definitely something I've appreciated.

FlexJobs also surveyed workers from older generations, and I'll address those results in a future column.

But for now, I'd like to hear what you think. Would you like to move from a full-time to a part-time work schedule? Could you survive financially if you did? If you made such a change, what would you do with your extra time? And do you think this is primarily a goal of younger workers?
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