Employer Mandate Isn’t Pushing Workers Into Part-Time Gigs

Despite claims that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) would lead to an increase in part-time work, no ACA-attributable increase was seen by the Urban Institute for 2014. The Urban Institute issued a brief exploring the theory that part time work would increase at the expense of full time employment, concluding that the small increase that was seen is attributable to economic recovery.

The Urban Institute noted that the ACA could increase the number of part-time workers in two ways. First, businesses seeking to avoid the employer mandate could cut workers hours to ensure they had fewer than 50 full time employees. Second, with other ways to purchase health insurance and expanded Medicaid eligibility, some workers might voluntarily cut their hours. Looking back at 2013 figures, the Urban Institute found that the rate of part-time work was “exactly what we would expect it to have been given unemployment rate trends up to that point.”

Finding that there was an increase in involuntary part-time work was in line with historic patterns, the Urban Institute concluded that the increase was “due to a slower than normal recovery of full-time jobs following the Great Recession.” The study also looked at historical data, particularly labor market trends in Hawaii after its employer mandate legislation in 1970. Noting that the information “holds limited applicability to the entire United States”, the rate of part time work in Hawaii was 1.4 percentage points higher than the rest of the nation over a 23 year period.

For more information, visit http://www.rwjf.org/content/dam/farm/reports/reports/2014/rwjf415284.

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