No, the ACA Isn’t Forcing Firms to Cut Workers’ Hours

January 09, 2015

Nicolas Buffie

Earlier this morning, CEPR’s Dean Baker reported on the good news about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in today’s jobs report:

“Most of the other news in the household survey was positive. The number of people involuntarily working part-time fell by 60,000 and is now almost 1 million below its year-ago level. The number of people who chose to work part-time also fell from the November level, but it is still 1.1 million higher than its year-ago level. This is likely due to the ACA, which has allowed workers to get health care insurance outside of employment.”

This directly contradicts critics’ claims that the ACA would force firms to cut their workers’ hours. As can be seen from the graph below, the number of workers involuntarily working part-time has come down drastically since last April, while the number of workers choosing to work part-time has increased. (I use April as my start date because many of the ACA’s 2014 enrollees only purchased insurancein March, even though the exchanges had been open since October 2013.)


If an employee is working part-time and would like to work full-time, his or her status as part-time is a negative: that employee would like to work more, but hasn’t been given the opportunity to do so. However, if an employee is voluntarily working part-time, it means that he or she is making an active decision to pursue part-time employment. Since health insurance was previously linked to a worker’s status as a full-time employee, many Americans worked full-time simply to receive health insurance benefits; this was true even for workers who otherwise would have preferred to work part-time. Thanks to the ACA, workers no longer have to be employed full-time in order to receive insurance, so, not surprisingly, voluntary part-time employment is up.

It’s clear that the ACA is helping workers, not hurting them. Those who argue otherwise simply aren’t looking at the facts.

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