Two Graphs Showing, Decisively, That Obamacare Is Not Creating a Permanent Part-Time America

The part-time worker boom is a recession thing, not an Obama thing. Blame the CDOs, not the ACA.
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There is so much we don't know about Obamacare. We don't know what it will do to premiums in the next decade. We don't know if the exchanges will fail. We don't know how many young people will sign up. We don't really know if it will work, basically!

Among the many things we don't know is whether movie theaters, restaurants, and other firms will dump all their full-time workers when the employer mandate hits in 2015 (it's already been delayed). The popular conservative take, reinforced somewhat by anecdotal evidence, is that the law is causing full-time workers to disappear, already. "Us and other people are hiring part-time because we don't know what the costs are going to be to hire full-time," said Steven Raz, founder of New Jersey staffing firm.

But despite Raz's warnings, the dramatic rise in part-time work hasn't been so dramatic. Since Obamacare was signed, part-time workers have increased by just 2 percent. Full-time workers have increased by 5 percent. From Kevin Drum:

blog_full_time_part_time.jpg

So where did this meme about Part-Time America come from? It came from 2008, a year and a half before the Affordable Care Act was passed. Here's another graph offering some valuable perspective on the rise in part-time work, via Jim Pethokoukis and Goldman Sachs:

071113aca-600x425.jpgLook closely. The share of part-time workers in America shot up after the Great Recession, and it has *declined* since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. It has, however, been a rather jagged decline.

This is intuitive. When the economy stinks, employers want to keep some workers around but pay them less and have the option to fire them. It stinks. A lot. But you don't need the Obamacare Boogieman to explain it.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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