A new report from NBC News adds to the number of anecdotes of employers cutting workers’ hours in response to Obamacare.
NBC’s Lisa Myers and Carroll Ann Mears contacted 20 businesses of different kinds and sizes from around the country, and “almost all said that because of the new law they’d be cutting back hours for some employees — an unintended consequence of the new law.”
A provision of the 2010 law, known as the employer mandate, requires businesses of 50 or more workers to offer health insurance to employees who work 30 hours or more a week, or pay a fee.
Some employers say that this requirement forces them to reduce some workers’ hours below the 30-a-week cut-off. NBC News’ piece includes quotes from the owner of 21 Subway franchises and from the president of St. Petersburg College in Florida to the effect that the Affordable Care Act leaves them no choice but to shift some workers to part-time status.
NBC’s report is the latest in a series of anecdotes from around the country of businesses, nonprofits and local governments shifting to part-time employment.
Those anecdotes, if representative of the choices businesses are facing, have not yet translated to the jobs data, which so far show little evidence that the law is affecting the employment mix. The number of Americans working part time for economic reasons has dropped slowly over the course of the economic recovery, and the length of the average workweek has returned to its pre-recession level.
One possible indication that Obamacare is taking a toll on full-time employment growth is a sharp discontinuity in the number of Americans working 25-29 hours a week and those working 30-34 hours a week. Investor’s Business Daily’s Jed Graham has noted that the in the second quarter of 2013, the number of workers putting in just over 30 hours a week fell by an average of 1.4 percent a month, while the number increased by 2.7 percent for those working just under 30 hours a week.
The RAND Corporation’s Carter Price warned, however, that because of the volatility of the data, it is still “too early” to draw any broad conclusions about Obamacare’s impact on jobs.