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Is Obama Creating A Permanent Part-Time Economy?

Those on the right say yes, but Derek Thompson from The Atlantic and the those on the left say NO!

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So Is Obamacare producing a “Part-time America?”

Many on the political right claim that Obamacare is creating a group of Americans that cannot find full-time work, and thus are forced to work part-time. Since Obamacare mandates that employers provide insurance for full-time employees, those on the right claim that this is forcing employers to cut hours and have more part-time employees in an effort to cut costs.

Those on the Left say “NO” and provide some pretty graphs to back it up.

Derek Thompson, a senior editor at The Atlantic, has made multiple attempts to discredit attacks on Obamacare. Particularly, he has tried to disprove the claim that Obamacare is creating a part-time America, and he uses graphs to back up his claims…

"Obamacare has NOT Created a Permanent Part-time Workforce"

In his first article on the topic, Thompson uses the following graph to describe how Obamacare has NOT established a part-time workforce. In describing his graph, he says:

“The dramatic rise in part-time work hasn't been so dramatic. Since Obamacare was signed, part-time workers have increased by just 2 percent. Full-time workers have increased by 5 percent.”

The First Lie..

The above graph is confusing because of the way it is indexed. It does not show us the whole picture.

“Look closely. The share of part-time workers in America shot up after the Great Recession, and it has *declined* since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. It has, however, been a rather jagged decline.

This is intuitive. When the economy stinks, employers want to keep some workers around but pay them less and have the option to fire them. It stinks. A lot. But you don't need the Obamacare Boogieman to explain it.”

But Again, He is Lying with Numbers, and Here is Why...

Yes, there is an increase in part-time employment during recessionary periods, but this time is different.

Looking at recessions in the past, part-time employment sharply declined after the recession ended. That trend has not continued following the passage of Obamacare and the great recession.

...And Why It Is His Worst Graph!

This is his most deceiving graph yet. The chart only measures the changes from the previous year. For example, if the economy added 0 full-time jobs, but added 100 part-time jobs last year, then added 100 full-time jobs and 100 part-time jobs.

This is change from the previous year. The economy lost full-time jobs from the previous year. The economy gained millions of part jobs the year before, so even staying at that current growth rate makes it look like not a lot of new part-time jobs. Accounting for change does not give you the whole picture.

Another Graph...

“The second thing we should expect to see from Part-Time America is a growing number of part-time jobs since Obama came into office and started passing laws. Here's a graph showing the number of people working part-time for economic reasons since March 2010, the month Obamacare was passed.”

He is correct, but...

Look back, and take a closer look at his scale. The range on his vertical axis is from 4.8% to 6.0%. Yes it is declining, but still it is still not anywhere close to where previous recessionary part-time labor numbers have been. Above you will find a historical look at recessions and par-time labor (he uses this graph), and you will find that this current recovery (decline in part-time labor) is way slower and higher than in previous recessions.

The Final Graph...

"Okay, now here's something: Part-time work, as a share of the economy, is historically high. But these graphs don't make the point that Obama, or long-term global economic trends, are driving the rise in non-voluntary part-time work. Instead, the rise of part-time work seem to be 100 percent the creation of economic downturns. That's why it seems to be holding hands with unemployment, riding the roller coaster up during recessions, and down during recoveries. "

Final Lie (Sorta)

Thompson is correct saying that there is a relationship between economic downturns and par-time employment. The point he misses though, is that part-time hasn't had the sharp decline like previous recovers have shown.


The statistics were not as conclusive as I had hoped going into this project, but I hope that once the employer mandate finally begins in 2015, we have a real concrete answer as to how Obamacare is forcing more people to work part-time.

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