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Aug 07, 2014 - 5:00pm

Part-Time Workers Struggle Under Obamacare

Senior Editor, Digital Content


Job seekers line up outside a New York career fair.
Job seekers line up outside a New York career fair.
Photographer: Craig Warga/Bloomberg.

McClatchy reports that part-time workers continue struggling in this economy:

Monica Alexander needs a full-time job.

A certified nursing assistant, she just started working about 28 hours a week as a home companion in Wake County, N.C. That’s a major improvement over the eight hours she had been clocking each week for six of the past seven months.

Alexander is one of 7.5 million Americans struggling to find full-time work who settle for part-time jobs, amid an atmosphere of stress, depression and low finances. Their numbers remains stubbornly higher in the current economic recovery, compared with the peaks of the recessions over the past three decades.

Indeed, the number of unemployed people is 24 percent higher now than it was in December 2007 when the recession began. But the number of people like Alexander--known as involuntary part-time workers--is 66 percent higher, more than double what it was back then.

One reason so many of these people can't fine full-time work is that under the health care law full-time work was redefined from 40-hours-per-week down to 30-hours-per-week. This has created a perverse incentive for employers to hire more part-time workers.

Back to the McClatchy story:

“The pace of decline in part-time employment is smaller now than what we’ve seen in other recoveries,” said Gus Faucher, a senior economist at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh. “Businesses have been cautious about moving workers from part time to full time.”

One North Carolina employer is seeing the health care law’s effects first hand:

[Capital Associated Industries] surveys 1,100 companies in North Carolina on salaries, hiring, wages and health care costs, among other topics. Employers already are looking to increase their part-time employment and cheapen costs on full-time workers because of the mandate, [Bruce Clarke, president and CEO] said.

South Carolina staffing agencies are seeing the same thing.

Legislation to restore the 40-hour definition of full-time work passed the House of Representatives. Unfortunately the White House has threatened to veto it. Restoring the traditional definition would be a boost to employers who have had their businesses unnecessarily disrupted, and it’ll mean more hours and wages for employees.

Follow Sean Hackbarth on Twitter at @seanhackbarth and the U.S. Chamber at @uschamber.

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About the Author

Sean Hackbarth standing in front of oil pumps near Baker, Montana.
Senior Editor, Digital Content

Sean has written for various Chamber properties since 2012. In 1999, Sean launched a “weblog” and never looked back, becoming a self-proclaimed pioneer of the medium.

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