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Thursday, August 15, 2013 3:20 PM


Is Obamacare Really Responsible for Rise in Part-Time Employment? If So, Why Doesn't Average Weekly Hours Show Just That?


Inquiring minds are digging into average weekly hours of workers looking for Obamacare effects on which to place blame.

Average Weekly Hours Of Production And Nonsupervisory Employees



Since this data series began in 1964, the average weekly workweek has been trending lower.

Note the tendency following each recession. 1990-1998 is the only exception to the general rule that hours never recovered to the previous pre-recession level.

Last Five Observations

  • 2013-07: 33.6 Hours 
  • 2013-06: 33.7 Hours   
  • 2013-05: 33.7 Hours   
  • 2013-04: 33.7 Hours   
  • 2013-03: 33.8 Hours   

Lets' zero in to a tighter timeline for a closer look.



The second chart shows that in spite of Obamacare, average weekly hours has been bouncing between 33.6 and 33.8 for quite some time.

Several readers emailed such data is proof that Obamacare is not having the effect that I have repeatedly stated that it has.

They are wrong.

Just because hours have stabilized does not mean there is no Obamacare effect. It simply means some industries have not been impacted as much as others.  You just have to know where to look.

Focus on Home Centers, General Merchandise, Services for Elderly

Jed Graham at Investor's Business Daily highlights select areas in his report ObamaCare Fuels Sharp Workweek Drop In 4 Industries, while coming to the proper conclusion.
Anyone who insists ObamaCare employer penalties aren't having a meaningful impact on work hours simply hasn't looked closely at the evidence.

In a private economy with 114 million workers clocking 34.4 hours a week on average, it's easy to miss important changes. What feels like a wave to modest-wage workers getting hit may appear to be a mere ripple from an altitude of 40,000 feet.

After all, 1.4 million workers could lose an 8-hour shift and it would shave just six minutes off the average workweek. But if one looks closely, it's not hard to find industry groups with an unprecedented drop in work hours since ObamaCare became law.



Among retail bakeries, home-improvement stores and providers of social assistance to the elderly and disabled, the workweek for nonmanagers has fallen to record-low levels — by far.

At general merchandise stores, department stores and discounters, the rate at which the workweek has fallen since early 2012 is way off the charts relative to prior data going back to 1990.

The White House pointed to hours worked in the restaurant sector to disprove an ObamaCare impact, but the data don't support the claim. Because average hours worked are already below 25 hours, part-timers hired for 28 hours would raise the average.
Questions and Answers

Q: Why doesn't a chart of average weekly hours show the Obamacare effect?
A: It does. You just have to look in the right places.

Q: Is Obamacare responsible for the overall trend of declining workweek hours?
A: The workweek has been declining since the series began, so the answer must be no. However, Obamacare has indeed contributed to the trend as shown above.

Q: Is Obamacare to blame for rising part-time employment?
A: Yes

Obamacare Effects

For more on "Obamacare Effects", please see



As Jed Graham states "Anyone who insists ObamaCare employer penalties aren't having a meaningful impact on work hours simply hasn't looked closely at the evidence."

To which I would add ... the economic distortions go far beyond part-time employment.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

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