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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Obamacare Gives Children Cavities

Obamacare Gives Children Cavities

Thursday, 22 August 2013 19:41

Sorry, we're trying out some catchy lines to help the Republicans in their effort to stop Obamacare. They keep pressing the one about how it is causing businesses to shift to part-time workers to avoid the employer sanctions. The basis for these sanctions was originally supposed to be the number of workers employed for an average of more than 30 hours a week in 2013, however in early July the Obama administration announced that it would put off the sanctions for a year.

Nonetheless, we still have many folks pushing the part-time line. Reporters seem to buy it, even if the data don't.

For example, Reuters told us that "three out of every four of the nearly 1 million hires this year are part-time."

That's not what our friends at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report. If we look at the household survey (which gives us part-time employment), there were 1,119,000 more people employed in July than in January of 2012. According to the survey, the number of people involuntarily working part-time (i.e. would prefer full-time employment) increased by 327,000 over this period. The number of people voluntarily working part-time increased by 365,000 over this period. That gives us 692,000 in total. That would be 61.8 percent, which is considerably less than three quarters.

However their story gets worse if we look at the data more closely. These numbers are always erratic. There actually was a sharp fall in the number of people who reported working part-time at the end of 2012 which makes rise in 2013 look larger. If we use July 2012 as the basis of our comparison, then involuntary part-time unemployment is unchanged, while voluntary part-time is up by 282,000. By comparison, total employment is up 966,000. This means that part-time employment accounted for 29.2 percent of the jobs created over the last year.

It is also worth noting that part-time is defined by BLS as working less than 35 hours a week. Since companies would still have been forced to pay a penalty for workers putting in 30-34 hours, we should be seeing an increase in the number of workers putting in just under 30 hours a week if Obamacare is having the bad effect promised by its opponents. Helene Jorgensen and I looked at this issue a couple of months back. We found that, at least through April, the number of people working 26-29 hours a week was actually slightly lower in 2013 than in 2012. Oh well.

Thanks to Michael Ash for calling this one to my attention.

Comments (2)Add Comment
written by TVeblen, August 22, 2013 10:42
Have you ever taken a careful look at your auto or homeowners policy? I've had BC/BS for years and I've never seen a copy of the policy that covers me through work. My guess is that Obama is not going to defend the chaos that is likely to emerge, just like the HMO debacle in the 1990s. Dean, I'm sorry to say, but Obamacare is likely to sputter and cough itself into oblivion. I just don't think rank-and-file Democrats (like myself) are going to go out and defend this b/c it is not possible - given the structure of these exchanges - to work. In retrospect, a full court press for "Medicare for All" in 2012 would have been worth the political capital compared to the chaos and frustration that will deep six this over time. I tried defending Obamacare to a neighbor and there just wasn't any juice or passion in what I was saying.
Take Heart TV man
written by jumpinjezebel, August 22, 2013 11:19
Do you remember old Ray Gun Ronnie saying Medicare was going to be the end of America?? Well we're still waiting.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.