Even though the economy is slowly recovering, employment is still on rocky ground. In September, almost 8 million Americans were working part-time because full-time jobs were not available. Almost a fifth of the entire workforce, a whopping 27 million Americans, are working part-time, something that has been unheard of until recently. Some who are concerned with employee rights want to point the blame on the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” but this is not the real culprit of the uptick in part-time work.
It is true that the “employer mandate,” the requirement that all small- and medium-sized businesses are required to offer healthcare coverage to their employees, has scared a few companies into only hiring part-time employees. However, the mandate has been moved back until 2015 to give businesses a chance to better prepare. There will still be companies that take that route, but that still does not account for the historic number of part-time workers in the workforce.
When the rate of part-time work is looked at from a long-term perspective, the increase isn’t quite as drastic. Before the recession, roughly 17 percent of Americans were employed on a part-time basis, according to data provided by the Labor Department. During the recession the number of part-time workers – those who worked 35 hours a week or less – rose to a high of 20 percent. However, the number has been on the decline and reached 19 percent in September.
Here is the real reason Obamacare is not to blame for the increase in part-time work. The Labor Department considers those who work 35 hours or less part-time employees. However, the ACA considers anyone who is employed 30 hours or more eligible for employee-sponsored healthcare. So if Obamacare was actually driving the trend for part-time work, there would have been a sharp decline in the number of people working 30 to 34 hours a week and an increase of people working 30 hours or less. That’s not the case.
Anyone who thinks they might be facing a cut in hours or pay for reasons beyond their control could speak to a legal representative to determine if their employee rights are being violated.
Wall Street Journal, “Don’t Blame Health Law for High Part-Time Employment” Ben Casselman, Oct. 22, 2013