Do you really believe that the ACA is having no employment impact?
The pesky little problem with facts is that, more often than not, there are other facts out there to refute them. Such is the case with this piece over at SHRM which happily announces that Obama’s Affordable Care Act has had… by and large… no negative effect on US Employment statistics and trends:
The latest research on the effects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the U.S. labor market is finding there isn’t much support for detractors of the ACA, at least not yet. Critics of the statute contend it’s too early to say what the long-term impact will be.
An overview of research done in the past year on the Affordable Care Act and employment finds little proof that the ACA is hampering employment, said Robert Kaestner, professor in the Institute of Government and Public Affairs of the University of Illinois at Chicago. “While there was a great concern that the ACA might adversely affect employment—for example, by increasing part-time jobs or making people already working part-time not be able to get full-time work—there is very little evidence that this is occurring. If it is occurring, it is quite small and hard to detect from a statistical framework.”
Now… ordinarily I might go looking for articles that might raise doubts about these claims but I only needed to go farther down in the same article:
Some evidence detailing ACA-related job and/or hour reductions does exist, of course, notably in examples like an Investor’s Business Daily tally of entities that have cut hours or eliminated positions.
“We have not seen as many job losses as we thought we might,” Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., wrote last year. “In part, this is because the recovery took hold at the same time the ACA was being implemented. Job creation from renewed economic growth has camouflaged any job losses from the ACA. And, in part, it is because American companies have proven remarkably adaptive. Even so, there is evidence that the ACA is costing at least some jobs or causing businesses to shift workers from full- to part-time.”
A 2015 survey by the National Small Business Association (NSBA), a small-business advocacy organization in Washington, D.C., found that 25 percent of small employers said they were not growing due to the ACA, but that was down from 33 percent in 2014. Meanwhile, 12 percent said they were hiring more part-time workers due to the ACA (down from 14 percent), and 7 percent were reducing employee hours (down from 10 percent).
In response to the January Health Affairs study finding scant evidence that employees were being shifted to part-time status, posted comments cited personal experiences that contradicted that conclusion or claimed the findings were premature.
Kaestner cautioned that many factors must be considered when looking at labor market trends, and said he understood why there were those who feared the ACA might indeed squelch job growth.
“When the Affordable Care Act was passed, the unemployment rate was 10 percent,” he said. “So any hint that things were going to get worse raised sensitivity and concern. There were plausible reasons to think the ACA may have adversely affected employment. It’s not just political rhetoric. The labor market is dynamic, and there are lots of things going on all the time. Our job as researchers is to sift through those noisy things and try to find a more systematic effect [of health care reform]. That’s a tough job.”
However, “the anecdotes are anecdotes, and we all have lots of them” claiming employers have reduced employee hours or kept hiring below the 50 full-time employee level that triggers the ACA’s employer mandate. “That doesn’t mean they reflect the greater trend or actual occurrence,” he added. “Although lots of employers fear this, and it may be going on, it’s hard to disentangle, maybe, from other trends.”
The best case scenario is that the jury is still out on the ACA. Worst case is that it forced changes in employment practices sufficient enough to avoid taking the hit from the Feds on mandates well enough to cover their tracks.
[Images courtesy Newsbusters & Obamacare Facts ]