Obamacare economy pushes workers into part-time jobs

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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There’s one clear growth area in the Obamcare economy — the share of the nation’s workforce that is stuck in part-time jobs.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly survey of households says the economy actually lost 240,000 full-time jobs in June, but gained 360,000 part-time jobs.

The household survey produces somewhat volatile monthly results, so most economic forecasters focus on the BLS’ monthly employer survey.

That survey of employers showed they added 202,000 private-sector jobs, but 107,400 of them were in the sectors that rely heavily on low wage, part-time employees, such as restaurants, retail trade and “employment services.”

The apparent rise in part-time employment is largely driven by the Obamacare law, which requires companies that employ more than 50 people to buy increasingly expensive health-care insurance for employees. The expense — and the risk of fines if they fail to properly implement complex rules — pressures companies to hire part-timers in place of full-timers.

The nation’s slow economic growth also reduce the need for full-timers.

The rise in part-time employment is obscured by the most commonly-cited employment number — the formal unemployment rate.

That’s based on employers’ reports and it remained flat in June at 7.6 percent.

But a broader measure of unemployment — which measures the number of people working in part-time jobs who want full time jobs — jumped from 13.8 percent to 14.1 percent, according to the BLS survey of employers.

That jump bolsters the household survey’s report about a sharp jump in part-time jobs.

If the household survey is accurate in June, it indicates that “the entire increase in the household measure of employment was accounted for by persons working part-time for economic reasons,” according to James Pethokoukis, an economic expert at the American Enterprise Institute.

Overall, “there are 28 million part-time workers in U.S. vs. 25 million before the Great Recession,” Pethokoukis wrote.“There are 116 million full-time workers in U.S. vs. 122 million before the Great Recession… [ensuring that] 19% of the (smaller) U.S. workforce is part time vs. 17% before the Great Recession.”

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