• Tweets worth reading: Obamacare and part time jobs

    I’m not in any way saying Obamacare caused these results, but they certainly do fly in the face of the “Obamacare is causing everyone to push employees into part time jobs” meme:

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    @aaronecarroll

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    • What if you look at it by sector? I’d want to know if there’s been a shift from full-time to part-time within low skill sectors such as retail and services. The anecdotes about reduced hours are coming from waitresses, Walmart clerks and fast food workers, not employees in government, transportation, or finance/real estate.

      • In a country of over 300 million people you shouldn’t have any trouble finding many anecdotes about people getting hours cut, regardless of the general trend. Especially in high turnover hourly industries, that’s how they work.

        Anecdotes are a good way to understand how trends affect people, but you can’t use them to understand macro economic issues, they just don’t work for that.

        • Anecdotes: exactly. That’s all it is.

          In real life, the number of companies for which this is a relevant business decision has to be tiny. The vast majority of employees in the US are employed by an employer that provides health care. Second, for this to be a decision, you have to have over 50 employees (or be about to grow to over 50 employees) and not be providing health care already. I don’t have the numbers at hand, but since most small companies are really small, and once a company gets anywhere close to 50, it gets real interested in providing health care (to keep employees happy and not switching jobs), that doesn’t leave very many companies affected.

          So it’s not a coincidence that the people Fox News has interviewed claiming to be adversely affected were, in fact, not affected.

          It’d be nice if some economist would go crunch the numbers to tell us how many companies and employees this could effect.

    • “What if you look at it by sector? I’d want to know if there’s been a shift from full-time to part-time within low skill sectors such as retail and services. The anecdotes about reduced hours are coming from waitresses, Walmart clerks and fast food workers, not employees in government, transportation, or finance/real estate”

      Exactly. Even if you restrict the analysis to these sectors sorting out causal associations between changes in the incentives and constraints that employers face under a new set of laws is nearly impossible because exogenous changes can and do outweigh sector specific effects, and there is no data set that you can use to determine the number of full time jobs that would have been created if the ACA hadn’t been in place.

      I’m all for strict empiricism when the systems are simple enough to establish a robust connection between cause and effect, but once you leave that realm statistical associations are easily confounded by exogenous factors. Ergo you have to – at a minimum – incorporate logical inferences based on both logic and consistently observable patterns of human/economic behavior into your analyses, such as “All things being equal, if I increase the price of X is demand likely to go up or down?”

      Unless one is prepared to argue that the ACA itself incentivezes employers in low-wage industries who have traditionally included little or nothing in the way of paid benefits in their compensation packages to keep their full-time staffing the same or increase full time staffing, then the presumption should be that policy changes that make it considerably more costly for businesses in this category to employ full time workers beyond a certain threshold will either convert more of their workers to part-time status or organize themselves to keep their workforce below the threshold than they would have otherwise (e.g. without the ACA).

      • We can make plenty of presumptions and base policy on them. Like the presumption that better healthcare leads to better health and more productive workers, which should lead to a wage increase.

        In the absence of data, presumptions are useless.

    • Wow so the employer mandates seem to be having little or no effect. I guess that is good.