There's been some debate about whether Obamacare is systematically pushing employers across the economy to cap hours for part time workers. (For the best case that it isn't, see Bloomberg's Evan Soltas.) But there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that it's cutting worker hours in specific industries.
Reporters from NBC News, for example, talked to just shy of 20 different businesses across the country, and reported that "almost all said that because of the new law they'd be cutting back hours for some employees." The administration responded that the evidence was anecdotal, and lacking in systematic proof.
But Joseph Hansen, the president of the 1.2 million member United Food and Commercial Workers union, which supported Obamacare, argued that it's definitely happening, even if the data has yet to catch up with the trend. "Wait a year," he told NBC News. "You'll see tremendous impact as workers have their hours reduced and their incomes reduced. The facts are already starting to show up. Their statistics, I think, are a little behind the time."
Jed Graham of Investor's Business Daily, who has been writing about the health law's effects on work hours for a while now, points to additional data from select industries. "Among retail bakeries," he writes, "home-improvement stores and providers of social assistance to the elderly and disabled, the workweek for nonmanagers has fallen to record-low levels — by far. At general merchandise stores, department stores and discounters, the rate at which the workweek has fallen since early 2012 is way off the charts relative to prior data going back to 1990." The shift, he notes, has occurred pretty much exactly in sync with the start of Obamacare's incentives toward limiting work hours.
Even if there's no sign of the shift within the data so far, it's clear that it's on many employers' minds—even employers in the public sector. Reuters reports that "school boards, already struggling to manage after years of state budget cuts, are trying to get ahead of the potential costs of Obamacare for the current academic year, education and labor officials say." If they can't find "creative solutions" to keep their budgets in check, school officials say they "risk cutting back staff hours further."