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Part-Time Work Still Up, but Health Law Isn’t the Cause

Wall Street Journal (10/22/13) Ben Casselman

Part-time employment accounted for 19% of employment in September, up from 17% prior to the recession. However, experts say the gain occurred during the recession and cannot be blamed on the Affordable Care Act. The U.S. Department of Labor reports a jump in full-time employment of 1.6 million during the past year, compared with a decrease in part-time employment of close to 300,000. The report counts those who work less than 35 hours per week as part-time, whereas part-time is defined by the ACA as less than 30 hours, so many of the workers in DOL’s report would be deemed full-time under the ACA and subject to the employer mandate.

There is little evidence that employers are reducing hours to skirt the ACA’s requirements, as the share of employees working 30 to 34 hours per week at their main job increased slightly in the past year while the share of those working fewer than 30 hours per week decreased slightly. For now, the ACA is not the reason more Americans are working fewer hours, but employers could adjust their hiring practices before the employer mandate is implemented in 2015.