FAQ Friday – How Much Should a Part-Time Worker Be Paid?

Q. How much should a part-time worker earn compared with a full-time worker?

A. We often hear questions from employers and job seekers about wages. Some employers assume part-time workers should receive lower hourly wages than full-time workers. Others think the wage should be higher because part-time workers don’t receive the same benefits as full-time workers.

Who’s right? It depends. Ultimately, the labor market is like any other market. If a business is not finding a high quality product (skilled workers) at a price (wage) it currently offers, then it needs to up the ante. Employers should also consider the difference in benefits, when making the decision what salary to offer. Local labor market wages can be found on the Idaho Department of Labor’s labor market information website.

If the part-time workers need less experience or skills than full-time workers, perhaps they will accept a lower compensation package—including wages and benefits.

The dangers of paying too low a wage for a part-time worker include the inability to hire and keep workers with the right skills. It costs about the same to recruit, interview and train new part-time workers as new full-time workers. Yet oftentimes, turnover is high for part-time workers who are under-compensated compared to what’s generally offered in the labor market.

In general, employers report they pay part-time workers less than full-time workers in the same field for these reasons: (1) working part time reduces the amount of experience they gain on a job, so they won’t receive as high a premium for experience; (2) only entry-level skills are expected, while full-time workers are expected to have more skills and continue to develop skills; (3) full-time workers tend to be more career-oriented, which may make them more productive and willing to go the extra mile; and (4) some full-time workers earn overtime premiums when they work more than their normal hours in a week.

Kathryn Tacke, regional economist
Kathryn.Tacke@labor.idaho.gov,  208-799-5000 ext. 3984