No, Obamacare Isn't Turning America Into A Part-Time Economy

No, Obamacare Isn't Turning America Into A Part-Time Economy

Obamacare has not yet turned America into a nation of part-time workers, as many of its strongest critics have long said it would.

In fact, the opposite seems to be happening, according to new government numbers published Friday: The number of part-time jobs is actually shrinking, and full-time jobs are being created instead.

Specifically, the number of part-time workers in the U.S. fell in February to about 27.3 million, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday. That number is down by about 300,000 since March 2010, when the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, became law.

Meanwhile, the ranks of full-time workers have grown by more than 2 million within the past year to 117.8 million in February. The number of part-time workers fell by about 230,000 over that period.

Republicans argue that Obamacare's decree that businesses must give full-time workers health-care coverage will cause a bunch of jobs to switch from full-time to part-time. And a handful of employers have actually cut worker hours because of Obamacare.

But the majority of those cutting hours are in the struggling public sector -- state and local governments. In the private sector, the chief financial officers of 500 companies recently said that Obamacare will have a limited impact on their hiring decisions.

As you can see from the chart below, the number of part-time workers has bounced around a lot in the past few years, but has essentially been flat in the era of Obamacare.

part time

You could argue that the number of part-time workers should be falling as the economy recovers. After all, the number of people working part-time is still a lot higher than it was before the recession, when it was about 25 million or so, and at least some of that is probably due to Obamacare.

But the number of full-time workers has risen steadily since March 2010, as you can see from this chart:

full time

Again, the number of full-time workers could be and should be a lot higher. But employers have been cautious about hiring mainly because of shaky demand -- or "extreme economic uncertainty," in the words of those CFOs.

A stronger economy would lead to more full-time jobs. If companies need more workers to meet demand, they'll hire them, Obamacare or no.

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