Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke acknowledged that Obamacare regulations have caused employers to hire part-time workers, rather than full-time employees, but refused to say if Congress should delay the law’s mandates.
“[O]ne thing that we hear, you know, in the commentary we get at the FOMC is that some employers are hiring part-time in order to avoid the mandate there,” Bernanke told Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., during a House hearing. “So we have heard that.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney adopted the opposite position during the press briefing Tuesday. “I would say broadly that if you look at the economic data, the suggestion that the [Affordable Care Act] is reducing full-time employment is belied by the facts,” Carney said.
Bernanke did add that he wouldn’t conclude definitively that the law has harmed the economy. “But on the other hand, a couple of observations: one is that the very high level of part-time employment has been around since the beginning of the recovery. We don’t fully understand it,” he continued to Stutzman. “Secondly, those data come from the household survey, and they’re a little inconsistent with some of the data from the firm survey, which suggests that workweeks haven’t really declined very much. So I would say at this point that we’re withholding judgment on that question.”
Stutzman had asked Bernanke if “the Affordable Care Act is dragging the economy or slowing the economy down at all with the transition that we’re currently going through and the effort of implementation?”
The Indiana congressman also asked if the employer and individual mandates need delaying. “[T]his is beyond my pay grade,” Bernanke replied. “This would be — depend on questions of how well and how much time is needed to fully implement the bill.”