There’s no doubt that there seems to be a built-in inducement in the ACA for large employers to favor part time workers over full time workers. The employer penalty specifically seems to be biased in favor of the former over the latter. But we like data over theory. There’s an interesting post over at Angry Bear that shows that the evidence doesn’t favor the idea that part time workers are replacing full time workers:
So far this cycle part time employment is growing slower than full time employment so part time employees share of employment is falling. Part time share of employment seems to be following a normal cyclical development of surging during recession and declining during the recovery. At a minimum this ratio says that shift full time employees to part time employees is not large enough to show up in the the data.
Or, take these data, which show changes in the average workweek by industry:
Over the past year only 3 of the 13 industries have experienced a drop in the average workweek while the workweek lengthened for 10 industries. In the table goods producing and service producing are sub categories, not individual industries.
While many (including myself) have feared that the employer penalty could lead to negative consequences in terms of full-time hiring, that just doesn’t appear to be happening.
UPDATE: Josh Barro makes the excellent point that retail (where you’d expect to see the dropoff) is seeing a reduction in hours. The blog post I reference argues that manufacturing increases are balancing this out. This is likely one of those things that is true for some, but not for others. You can always cherry pick. The point is that certain workers (perhaps a minority) are affected. There are always tradeoffs in policy. I think the larger point is to recognize that this is not a widespread phenomenon felt across all industries.