It’s made up only a fraction of political debate in this year’s elections, but Obamacare continues to be, in my opinion, one of the biggest things holding us back from a full and robust economic recovery. Even with it standing in the way, numbers are on the rise. There’s no doubt about that, even if the numbers aren’t as good as the administration makes them seem. However, Obamacare threatens to not only keep national employment from blossoming, but to present even worse challenges in the future.
The big problem with our current recovery is that a lot of the job numbers Obama is so proud of are comprised of part-time employment. That can make the unemployment rate go down, but it’s hardly a sign that the country is booming. Americans are more optimistic, economically-speaking, than they have been in a long time. Good. Let’s hope that pattern continues. But that doesn’t mean we can afford to ignore the very real problems that still persist.
The Rise of the Part-Timer
Obamacare is at least partly to blame for this increase in part-time employment. Of course, many Democrats see that as a positive thing. They point out that subsidized health insurance is letting people reduce their employment hours without worrying about getting sick in the meantime. If that’s true, then bully for those people. But I don’t think the majority of part-time workers are taking it easy because of their newfound healthcare fortunes. They are forced into a part-time position because that’s all many employers can afford to offer. And that’s directly attributable to rising healthcare costs.
The surveys tell the story. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York published an employer survey earlier this year, and it revealed that a full 20 percent of responding companies planned to increase their part-time workforce ratios as a direct result of Obamacare’s burdens. Federal Reserve surveys in Atlanta and Philadelphia found similar responses.
Destructive to the Little Guy
Though Target and Wal-Mart have taken up headlines with their slashed worker hours, it is small business that has been hurt the most by the healthcare law. According to a report last month from the American Action Forum, small business employees saw their take-home pay slashed by more than $22 billion a year because of the Affordable Care Act. Additionally, more than 350,000 small business jobs have been lost due to the law.
Keep in mind, the dreaded employer mandate aspect of the law has yet to be enforced. Experts suggest that the economic picture could grow considerably worse when it goes into effect.
Unfortunately, it appears as though Republicans have lost their will to fight when it comes to Obamacare. It’s not surprising; we fought this healthcare bill so vigorously precisely because we knew how hard it would be to roll it back. Once big government gets a taste of private sector takeover, it literally takes an act of Congress to undo the damage. As long as it’s in effect, though, the job market will likely remain sluggish and depressing. As the kids are saying these days: Thanks, Obama.