Obamacare and Part-Time Work

When the jobs report came out yesterday, there was immediately a push back to the conservative argument that Obamacare is causing companies to cut their employees’ hours back to avoid the employer mandate penalty. The employer mandate requires employers with more than 50 workers to offer affordable health insurance to all full-time employees (defined as those working 30 or more hours a week). If they don’t do so, the firms must pay a fine of $2,000 per employee.

Many conservatives predicted that employers would cut back hours to get under that threshold. Liberals are concerned about that as well. But a meme popped up about a month ago that Obamacare was already cutting back worker hours. This never made any sense from the start. The Obama administration delayed the employer mandate until 2015. If employers were cutting back hours already, they’re doing so more than a year in advance. Why would they be doing that? It never added up.

Well, it’s abundantly clear now that employers aren’t cutting back on full-time workers. Here’s AEI’s Jim Pethokoukis:

Obamacare is not causing a surge in part-time employment at the expense of full-time jobs. Last month, according to the volatile household survey, full time employment was up 691,000, part-time employment down 594,000. So since last December, the economy has created about 1 million full-time jobs vs. a loss of 100,000 part-time jobs. From The Wall Street Journal: ”The uptick in part-time employment earlier this year now looks like a statistical blip: Part-time employment fell in late 2012, then rebounded in early 2013, and has now fallen for two consecutive months.”

That puts that rumor to bed. But don’t take this to mean that Obamacare won’t cause workers to cut back on employee hours. There’s a pretty good chance that it actually will have those harmful effects. But we won’t see those effects until a year from now when the threat of the employer mandate is closer.

It’s good that this job report disproved the idea that employers were cutting back worker hours because of Obamacare. But this shouldn’t overshadow the fact that the employer mandate isn’t good policy. We may not see the harmful effects of it now, but we likely will in the future.


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