- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 11, 2014

President Obama’s health care law is not forcing people to work part-time, according to a new study that contests the claim that firms would slash hours to avoid fines under Obamacare’s “employer mandate.”

The liberal-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research said the percentage of employed persons who are working part-time involuntarily went down — 5.55 percent to 5.07 percent — from the first six months of 2013 to the same period in 2014.

The Obama administration twice has delayed the employer mandate, which requires firms with 50 full-time workers or equivalents to offer health insurance or pay fines. It defines full-time work is defined as 30 hours per week.

As the mandate loomed, critics pointed to anecdotal evidence that employers were trimming hours or moving workers into part-time status to stay under the mandate’s thresholds.

“As can be seen, there is no evidence that these sanctions led to any increase in the number of people involuntarily working part-time,” the CEPR researchers said.

Although the mandate has not taken effect — it will start in 2015 for larger employers and phase in for smaller ones in 2016 — employers had to start tabulating how many workers they had in the first half of 2013. The first delay was not announced until July 2 of that year.

Researchers did note an uptick in voluntary part-time work. It jumped from 13.15 percent of employed persons in January-July 2013 to 13.23 percent during the same period in 2014.

“It is important to note voluntary part-time workers are people who report that they have chosen to work part-time,” the researchers said. “The number of people who report that they are working part-time but would like full-time employment has been dropping throughout the [economic] recovery.”

The study notes that Obamacare extended health insurance to millions of Americans, either through subsidized plans on state-based health exchanges or the expansion of Medicaid in certain states. That means fewer Americans are dependent on full-time jobs for their health coverage.

“This gives tens of millions of people the option to change their job, to work part-time, or take time off to be with young children or family members in need of care, or to retire early,” the researchers said.

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