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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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Growth of part-timers puts Connecticut in front

Published 9:42 am, Sunday, May 18, 2014

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  • Allison Donaldson walks to her car with her son 15-year-old son Matthew while picking him and his brother up following volleyball practice at New Canaan High School Tuesday, May 6, 2014. Photo: Autumn Driscoll / Connecticut Post
    Allison Donaldson walks to her car with her son 15-year-old son Matthew while picking him and his brother up following volleyball practice at New Canaan High School Tuesday, May 6, 2014. Photo: Autumn Driscoll

 

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Allison Donaldson began her Wall Street career in 1996 at Neuberger Berman, which paid for her to earn a master's degree in business administration from New York University.

Donaldson "really loved the world of finance," but fell in love with a man, got married, became pregnant with twins and moved to Stamford.

"I had a couple of kids and my job required travel, so I was doing it all, but I felt I wasn't doing it well. My twin sons were 18 months old and I thought this was the only chance to be a full-time mom," Donaldson said. "I was fortunate that I didn't have to stay at work full time. I left my job at Neuberger Berman with the intent of going back in two or three years, similar to other moms. But then I had a third child and that delayed my re-entry to the workforce."

She and her husband, Joseph, their 15-year-old twins and 11-year-old son now live in New Canaan. When Donaldson, 45, started job hunting a few years ago, she found a temporary position outside financial services, "but I knew I wanted to get back in."

`Real opportunity'

At a party, she met a partner at New Canaan-based HTG Investment Advisors and joined the firm last August, where she works 25 hours weekly on marketing and client services.

"There is the real opportunity to use my MBA and previous work experience and easily manage my family," she said.

Donaldson is a member of Connecticut's part-time labor force working fewer than 35 hours weekly, which has steadily grown since 2005 and was 22.2 percent of employment in 2012.

Connecticut's percentage of part-time workers outpaces the Northeast, South, Midwest and West, according to May's Connecticut Economic Digest.

While those choosing to work part time remain the bulk of part-time workers, the number of those working less than full time has grown since 2005 as more workers have their hours cut by employers or were unable to find full-time jobs during or after the recession.

"Voluntary reasons as a percent of part-time employment peaked during the height of the tech bubble in 2000, when it was 94 percent of all part-time employment," Department of Labor Economist Matthew Krzyzek wrote.

Among highest in U.S.

Of Connecticut's 383,000 part-time workers in 2012, 76.4 percent chose to work less than 35 hours weekly, in line with the national average of 76.8 percent.

Women make up the bulk of the part-time workforce at 69.5 percent, among the highest in the country, which had a 50-state average of 64 percent, the Connecticut Economic Digest found.

Women said the reasons for their part-time work included school enrollment, child care or family obligations. "In 2012, 80.0 percent of female part-time work in Connecticut was voluntary, whereas 69.1 percent of male part-time employment was voluntary," the report said.

While part-time jobs are often thought of as low wage, Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs, an agency that aggregates professional jobs with flexible schedules, sees opportunities for experienced professionals. "We are seeing an increase in the depth and breadth of job opportunities across the board. The recession forced companies to look at their openings and sometimes it's not the financially safest bet to always opt for a full-time employee. Now, they are savvier in hiring and open-minded in hiring. There was research done by Pew in 2012 that took a poll of mothers who want to work part time. 47 percent said the ideal situation is to work part time. There is a big pool of candidates that employers can tap into if they are willing to consider part-time employment."

GE, Pitney Bowes in front

Boulder, Colo.-based FlexJobs said the best Fairfield County companies for flexible jobs include Fairfield-based General Electric, Kforce in Shelton, Stamford-based Pitney Bowes, Gartner Group and Frontier Communications, and Ridgefield's Butler Hill Group.

Nadine Mockler, a principal for Westchester and Fairfield counties-based Flexible Resources, which places professionals into flexible jobs in the tri-state area, was cautious about part-time opportunities for professionals. "We just celebrated 25 years in the business and we have seen it all."

She said those seeking part-time professional work include new moms, baby boomers juggling elder care and older boomers not ready for full retirement.

"In the 2008 financial collapse, there were massive layoffs and companies just now are starting to hire back. The hiring is at the lower level, not so much in the middle and upper management levels that require the flexibility. The younger ones are trying to establish their careers and are looking for full-time work and need health care," Mockler said. "We see many major corporations backing off from flexibility completely. They had to lay off so many people and now that things are a bit healthier, they're looking for full-time people. These days, flexibility is working full time and working one or two days a week from home."