It's always fun to follow the Washington Post columnist on his expedition in economic confusion as he mangles one topic after another. Today we go with Samuelson to visit the claim that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a job killer.
Samuelson notes the evidence produced by the White House showing that there has been no rise in part-time employment as a result of the ACA. (CEPR produced a study confirming this claim. The share of workers putting in less than 30 hours a week was lower in the first half of 2013 than in 2012.) However he then turns to a study from the San Francisco Federal Reserve bank, which he says "fortifies my convictions:"
"It’s usually cited in the ACA’s favor, concluding that the law won’t erode full-time work much. The increase in part-time jobs “is likely to be small, on the order of a 1 to 2 percentage [points] or less.” But that few percentage points amounts to between 1.4 million and 2.8 million more part-time jobs. Not trivial."
In fact, the study does not conclude that the ACA will increase part-time employment, rather it refers to another study that found this impact. That sudy examined the impact of an employer mandate in Hawaii. It found zero impact after the law had been in effect for more than a decade. The 1-2 percentage point increase in part-time employment was only evident more than 20 years after the employer mandate went into effect.
It's also worth noting that the vast majority of part-time workers are employed part-time voluntarily. Even now more than two-thirds of part-time workers only want part-time employment. In more normal times this figure is over 80 percent. It is entirely possible that any rise in part-time employment over the next two decades as a result of the ACA will be filled mostly by workers who want to work part-time. This is especially likely to be true if part-time workers are able to get health care insurance as a result of the ACA.
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