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. 

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  1. File under “duh”

  2. I mean there’s unforeseen consequences and consequences that should of been fairly obvious.

    This fits the latter.

    I mean if you’re going to screw employers do it right don’t put in exemptions and expect full timers not to get fucked over.

    Good luck to anyone who doesn’t have an employee shortage in their field. You’ll need it.

    This all works out perfectly for Obama though, because not only can he claim that he lowered unemployment, by forcing employers to hire more part timers. His base will spin how much Obamacare has helped those few employees that actually receive health insurance out of the deal.

    This law is stupid and political genius at the same fucking time.

    1. Small biz got over a dozen new tax cuts/credits in 2009. The ones on the margin line of 50 are posed a problem but the rest – not so much.

      Did I mention Popeye’s Chicken?

      1. Palin’s Buttplug| 5.3.13 @ 10:54AM |#
        “Small biz got over a dozen new tax cuts/credits in 2009. The ones on the margin line of 50 are posed a problem but the rest – not so much.”

        Translated from full igno:
        ‘They only got screwed a little bit. Just enough to put some of them out of business’
        Thanks, dipshit.

      2. This is a big wet kiss to his corporate bundlers.

        The 50 employee threshold just turned from a high hurdle to the Lazarus pit jump from TDKR.

        And worse, I packed a nice lunch today but all I want is buttery biscuits and Kickin’ Chicken now.

      3. Small businesses also got hit with a record number of regulations last year.

        1. And 2010 and 2011.

          1. No they didn’t.


            1. Obamacare, restrictions on food trucks, online sales taxes, laughable calorie count mandates, bans on fast food joints and plastic, (bans on large size sodas in NY nearly happened), crackdown on raw food items, etc.

              No small number of ethnic eateries in So Cal allow you to smoke and drink alcohol past certain hours. They have contacts and offices in China that saves them cash. They’ll happily ignore rules and regulations here that doesn’t exist in Taiwan or Korea.

              Who’s gonna stop’em? CA democrats? Hahaha

  3. But Alan Krueger says Obamacare is a huge success, and has saved us trillions of dollars already. Everybody loves it.

  4. consequences that should of been fairly obvious.

    Not to people who believe “employers” exist solely for the purpose of handing out paychecks every Friday.

    1. Today is pay day for me. Apparently it is illegal in MA to pay in arrears less frequently than every 2 weeks. I found this out because we recently switched from semimonthly paychecks which paid ahead a week to paying in arrears (easier for accounting apparently) and had to switch to the biweekly paychecks. Stupid government making it harder for me to have automatic payments scheduled…

    2. And for government to collect whatever is left over after that to give to those that don’t work…

  5. Markets love the private sector number. S/P 500 busts through to a new all-time high of 1618 – a double from the 806 of Jan 20, 2009.

    Buy Buy Buy! It is a hell of a bull market!

    1. Amazing what eye watering deficits and rock bottom interest rates can do! Love that corporate welfare!

    2. Oblivious to the jobs numbers breakdown… but S&P is up based on the same oblivious reporting! Thank God, I thought the surfeit of part-time employment might indicate a bad long-term trend, but I can rest easy basing my presumptions on an eighteen point climb over the last couple hours.

  6. consequences that should of been fairly obvious.

    Only to people who understand business. Remember these people have spent their entire lives in school and in the government sector. They have no idea how business really work. They think businesses work like government agencies. When you need more money, you just go to Congress and get some. When your only experience in the world is with government agencies and crony driven enterprises, this is not obvious at all.

    1. The only reason that businesses would pass costs on to customers or employees is because they racistly hate Obama.

      1. Yes. Look if you are still making a profit, why do you need the extra? Why are you taking money from your customers or you employers? Don’t you have enough money already? So what if you lose some profit. Do the right thing.

        This is actually how they think.

        1. The rich capitalists aren’t paying their fair share. How do we know this? They’re rich. If they had paid their fair share then how could they be rich? So obviously they need to pay more, and they can afford to. Why? Because they’re rich.

          1. I don’t care that you worked 70 hours a week for ten years and risked poverty to build that business. Pay up and learn to live in a smaller house and stop being so hung up on consumerism.

            1. Without government providing roadz and other thinggies you wouldn’t have been able to do it anyway, so you know its not yours…

  7. Did Reason not hire enough part-time alt-text writers?

    1. No alt-text? Blame Obamacare!

      Oh, I will.

  8. I know I have read that HHS is supposed to calculate this shit based on FTE, not actual full-time employees, IOW, total hours worked/40=FTE employees. Is this not the case? Is there some other complicating factor that still makes it make sense to employers to downgrade people to under-30 hours?

  9. 1) get a bunch of people who’ve never had a real job to write laws tied to employment
    2) ???
    3) Profit!

    1. Whoooa there buddy. No profit. That shit is evil. Cut that out of your plan right this instant.

      1. I’ve been assured that profit is evil in private hands, but not after the government takes it. Then it’s squeaky clean and ready to do the good work of paying off cronies.

      2. And remember, we had to pass the bill to find out what was in it. So in reality:

        1) ???
        2) ???
        3) ???

        1. Do we even know how many steps there will be?

          1. Every step has an undetermined number of sub-steps.

            So its more like:

            and on and on. If we don’t have more steps, what will people do for work? There is always a sub-step we can take to insure the people have work!

          2. 1) ???
            2) ???
            n) ???

      3. Yeah it’s more like:

        1) get a bunch of people who’ve never had a real job to write laws tied to employment
        2) ???
        3) SOCIAL JUSTICE! [whatever the fuck that means]

        1. It means “I can use the government to screw over people I don’t like and feel righteous about it.”

    2. Berkeley is raising the MW (again), and the comments in the local rag were sad/funny.
      One prog ‘thinker’ mentioned that if you can’t run a business well enough to pay a ‘fair wage’, you deserve to go out of business.
      It doesn’t take much thought to see that the motivation is simply envy; that moron is more than willing to lose jobs, just to ‘prove’ that the management ‘wasn’t good enough’.

      1. We are getting closer and closer to the point where the only way to run a business “well enough to pay a fair wage” is to beg the masters for special exemptions to the rules and to punish your competitors through the law.

        1. And of course even those companies don’t do that. You think rip off scheme like Solandra paid their employees well? I would be shocked if they did. They paid their insiders and their top people extremely well. The peons not so much.

        2. We are getting closer and closer to the point where the only way to run a business “well enough to pay a fair wage” is to beg the masters for special exemptions to the rules and to punish your competitors through the law. move to another country.


      2. See my comment above. That is how they really think. In that Berkley progs’ mind, the business owner should just agree to live on less and pay his employees more.

        It really is envy. They hate the idea that people get ahead based on the fact that they can run a business rather than how smart they are or enlightened they are. They think well being should be based on their conception of morality rather than reality. Think about how much they bitch and moan that teachers are not the highest paid profession. To them teachers and educating children is the most noble and moral profession of all. So how can it not be the highest paid? They can’t think any deeper about the subject than that.

        1. I get so annoyed at that teacher salary thing. You either get 3 months off or have extra income from your summer job, get the school you work at to pay for you education so that you are eligible for a raise based solely on more credentials, have a ridiculously easy course load to get your degree in the first place, and do a job that I’ve literally seen done just as well by a high school student who only took the class the previous year and stepped up when needed.

          1. And you do a job a lot of people can do. The center fielder for the New York Yankees makes millions a year because there are not many people who can do that job. The guy who designs Iphones makes a lot of money because not many people can do that. They act like every job is just given to people by luck rather than being the result of years of work to acquire a valuable skill.

            1. Yeah, that’s what I meant by the high schooler teaching it portion. I should have made that clearer.

          2. I’m homeschooling so I get to prepare 6 or so new classes every year, and it’s not an overwhelming burden. Being able to recycle the same lesson plan for a class or two or even an entire grade from year to year strikes me as borderline stealing money.

      3. If you don’t have enough knowledge and motivation to run your own business, you deserve whatever wage those who do are willing to pay you.

        1. You can always not take the job. I wonder how many of these people are trust fund babies or have lived upper class lives where mom and dad took care of them and they transitioned from school to a cush job in the do gooder nonprofit sector.

          They seem to really have no concept how horrible being unemployed is and what a gift from God any job seems like when you have been out of work. Either that or they are just complete bums or are totally not bothered by the idea of mooching off the government or their parents or friends if they can’t find a job that they feel is worthy of them.

          1. My guess is that they are economic simpletons with no clue what it takes to run a business and to provide a desirable good or service at a price people will pay. And, if they did know, they probably wouldn’t care because it’s unfair to people with barely marketable skills.

          2. There is no longer any value in working hard. It’s probably related to the campaign to eliminate welfare recipients from ‘having to feel shame about it’.

            1. One of the worst things liberals did to this country was get people believe the idea that some jobs were exploitative or demeaning. They started that shit back in the 60s. It used to be that someone who spent their hole lives shinning shoes or cleaning windows to feed their family was a noble figure. The liberals turned that guy into a sucker, a victim. They convinced people working a lowly job was somehow undignified rather than being a noble act of a person who was willing to do what it took to support themselves. It just infuriates me. Who the fuck are these clowns to say someone with a simple hard working job is a victim worthy or sympathy or worse scorn rather than a good person worthy of respect and admiration?

              1. Liberals despise everyone, themselves included. It’s interesting to me that a guy who works hard his whole life is a sucker or a victim if he has a lowly job and didn’t make much money, but he’s an evil exploiter if he did make any money.

                1. Yeah Mad Scientists, at heart they hate themselves. Most of their political views are the product of their various emotional issues.

          3. Berkeley is bulging with Trustifarians and similar entitled folk. Go shopping at Berkeley Bowl on a Saturday to see the full range of Angry Rich Liberal in their natural habitat.

            (That said, BB is the greatest grocery store in the world)

  10. I’m wondering about businesses with several part-time employees. How long before the government makes it illegal for more than a certain percentage of your employees to be part time?

    Businesses will switch to outside contractors, and the feds will come up with a stack of arcane rules limiting a business’s ability to hire those too.

    1. CORRECT. And what a merry chase it will be.

  11. this is happening at numerous restaurants as mentioned in some of the links. even very long term employees (where I work) are being limited to 32 hours a week. Lot of people use the service industry to work their btuts off when they’re young, and they’re now having to pick up 2nd jobs

  12. My guess is that they are economic simpletons with no clue what it takes to run a business and to provide a desirable good or service at a price people will pay.

    When they fork over five bucks for a cup of coffee at Starbucks, they think that’s all profit.

    they don’t even see the cost of the coffee or the cup, much less the capital expense of putting the building on that corner, or the3 heat and light bills. Property taxes, and on and on.

    “They make five bucks a cup selling coffee; those poor baristas should be making forty thousand dollars a year!”

    1. It would be an interesting exercise to print the breakdown on the side of the coffee cup. X cents from the sale of this cup of coffee went to workman’s comp insurance. Y cents went to compliance with the health department’s insistence that we have so many feet of shelf space for dry storage even though we don’t need that much. Z cents pay for the taxes on the store’s phone bill…

      1. There was that economist, I forget who, who wrote the description of the production of a pencil back in the 50s I think. Basically, it showed how to even make pencil took an entire world wide trade network. That sort of thinking is beyond these people. They are complete emotion driven simpletons. They honestly think they could have a local commune that would give them the same quality of life that the world economy does.

        So yeah, they have no fucking clue what goes into making the things they consume.

        1. I, Pencil

          I’ve used that essay to attempt to educate progressives on the magic of markets, yet their response is always “Well government could coordinate all of that! I just know it! And they’d do it more cheaply and efficiently since government doesn’t waste money on profits to greedy capitalists!”

          1. It is so emotional and personal for people like that. I think at some level they are basically terrified small people. The are terrified by the fact that the world is huge, chaotic and out of their control.

          2. At that point in the conversation I smile and reply with “And that’s why the Soviet Union is such an economic powerhouse that’s still going strong today, eh?” Same when people try to bring up the “multiplier” hilarity.

            (Likely followed some handwaving horseshit but you’re probably administering medicine to the dead anyways.)

            1. They just didn’t have the right people in charge. This time it will be different. And stuff.

      2. Regardless of the breakdown, the fact of the matter is that capitalists are getting rich on the backs of the poor. Who cares if only a penny per cup is going to corporate profits? It’s a penny that could be feeding a starving child, but instead it pays for some rich capitalist’s mansion. That’s just unfair and outrageous. I don’t know why you libertarians lick the corporate boots that hold you down. And you wonder why everyone mocks you.


        1. but instead it pays for some rich capitalist’s mansion.

          But if the government builds that mansion, that is stimulus. Think of all of the masons and construction workers who will get jobs. And don’t forget the multiplier effect!!!

    2. They don’t think. They emote.

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