Is Obamacare Encouraging Employers to Hire Fewer Full-Time Workers?



Jim Pethokoukis looks at today's jobs report and wonders if Obamacare isn't making it harder for employers to hire full-time workers:

The report contained worrisome signs that President Obama's healthcare reform law is hurting full-time, high-wage employment.

While the American economy added 293,000 jobs last month, according to the separate household survey, the number of persons employed part time for economic reasons — "involuntary part-time workers" as the Labor Department calls them – increased by almost as much, to 278,000 to 7.9 million. These folks were working part time because a) their hours had been cut back or b) they were unable to find a full-time job. At the same time, the U-6 unemployment rate — a broader measure of joblessness that includes discouraged workers and part-timers who want a full-time gig – rose from 13.8% to 13.9%.

Let's see, more part timers and fewer hours worked. Economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin says what we're all thinking: "This is not good news as it reflects the reliance on part-time work. … the decline in hours and rise of part-time work is troubling in light of anecdotal reports of the impact of the Affordable Care Act."

J.D. Tuccille and I have noted some of those anecdotal reports here and here. Going forward, Obamacare's employer mandate has the potential to seriously complicate things for part-time workers and their employers: The law fines employers who don't provide health insurance to workers who put in more than 30 hours. But rather than pay for health insurance for workers who work, say, 31 or 33 hours a week, it seems quite likely that lots of employers will simply cap the number of hours their part timers can work.