Full-Time And Part-Time Employment: A Deeper Look

Obamacare and Part-Time Employment

Many have speculated that the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) has played a role in company decisions about full-time versus part-time employment. The $2,000 per employee penalty for companies that do not comply with regulations has influenced some to rethink their employment policies. In July 2013 the government pushed the start of the penalty from January 2014 to January 2015. But the anticipation of the penalty, even though delayed a year, no doubt influenced the decisions of private employers.

With regard to Obamacare and part-time employment, the surge in part-time employment was triggered by the recession, not by the Affordable Care Act, as the next chart clearly illustrates.

Full-time Part-time Employment

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' monthly employment report is a hodgepodge of data. The full-time/part-time ratio is but a tiny piece of the whole, and the magic 35-hour threshold is arguably arbitrary. But this is, nevertheless, a metric that bears close watching as we try to understand where the economy is headed. The question is whether the ratio shift is to some extent a structural change initially triggered by the Great Recession but now influenced by a combination of factors, not least of which are workplace demographics and ongoing increases in technology-driven productivity with less dependence on human workforce participation.


The data source for the charts and numbers in the commentary is the BLS's Databases & Tools page -- specifically the Labor Force Statistics here.

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