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The effect of Obamacare on employment

Dan Gorenstein Jan 6, 2016
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Nearly a year ago, the CEO of the parent company that owns Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s made a significant claim.

“Obamacare,” said Andy Puzder, “has caused millions of full-time jobs to become part-time.”

It’s just one of many bold predictions that the health care reform law would lead to employers reducing workers’ hours to avoid the costs of providing insurance to their workers.  

Yet, a new report in the journal Health Affairs finds little evidence that the health care law is pushing people out of full-time work.

In 2015, companies with 100 or more employees had to start offering coverage to anyone working at least 30 hours — or face fines.

Given that, if there ever was a year to see a spike in part-time work it was last year.

“Whatever changes that have happened has been really small,” said Kosali Simon, a co-author of the report and a professor at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs.  

When Simon says “small,” she says the data suggest about 250,000 older workers, as well as less-educated ones, moved from full-time to part-time over the last two years.

That’s out of some 50 million workers in those two categories.

The Urban Institute’s Bowen Garrett has also studied Obamacare’s impact on employment.

“We still need to know more about whether that’s really an effect of the ACA or if that is due to the economic recovery,” he said. “That could be causing some of these shifts.”

Garrett said this paper should put to rest a lot of the bombastic rhetoric we’ve all heard about the ACA driving us to become a nation of part-time workers.

And it makes the case for more research about what’s happening to those vulnerable workers at the margins.

 

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