US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT
Obamacare Hasn’t Caused a Shift to Part-Time Work…Yet
By: APARNA MATHUR, SITA SLAVOV
January 2, 2014
There has been considerable controversy in recent months about whether the Affordable Care Act is causing employers to shift towards a part-time workforce. For example, in a recent television interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” television journalist Maria Bartiromo suggested that as a result of Obamacare, we are becoming “something of a part-time employment country.” In addition, a recent article in Forbes (click here for article) points to anecdotal evidence that a number of employers, including restaurants and universities, have been replacing full-time workers with part-time ones. This shift towards part-time work is occurring, they argue, because the ACA requires large employers to offer health insurance to full-time workers (defined as those who put in 30 hours a week or more) starting in 2015.
But this anecdotal evidence isn’t borne out in the data for the labor force as a whole. In fact, there’s very little evidence to suggest that ACA has led to an increase in part-time work thus far. However, research on a state-level employer insurance mandate suggests that it could well have such an effect in the future.
The graph below shows the fraction of all employees who were working part time (35 hours per week or less) in September of each year since 2009. Because some individuals work part time by choice, we’ve focused only on those working part time for economic reasons, or involuntarily.
As Obamacare’s defenders have repeatedly pointed out, this number has actually fallen steadily since the passage of the law. But that is not very informative because the trend in part-time work simply tells us that the labor market has been recovering; it tells us nothing about the impact of ACA. To determine the impact of ACA, we need to figure out whether the share of part-time workers is higher or lower than it would have been in the absence of the health care law.
For a copy of the full article: click here