Another Study Debunks Myth That Obamacare Stymies Job Market

A new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that, contrary to right-wing media assertions, the overwhelming majority of employers have not responded to health insurance mandates in the Affordable Care Act by slashing jobs, converting full-time positions to part-time, or putting off hiring new workers. Fox News and The Wall Street Journal spent years claiming health care reform would threaten American jobs.

New Data Confirm That Obamacare Did Not Destroy Jobs, Force Workers Into Part-Time Positions

Kaiser Family Foundation: Vast Majority Of Employers Did Not Reduce Hiring, Hours, Jobs In Response To Obamacare. According to a September 22 survey released by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust, from January through June 2015, “relatively small percentages” of businesses required to provide insurance to full-time employees by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) responded to the health insurance mandates by switching to more part-time positions or deferring hiring decisions. In fact, more employers reported switching part-time workers to full-time status than reported scaling down full-time work:

The percentage of firms that offer health benefits to at least some of their employees (57%) and the percentage of workers covered at those firms (63%) are statistically unchanged from 2014. Relatively small percentages of employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees reported switching full-time employees to part time status (4%), changing part-time workers to full-time workers (10%), reducing the number of full-time employees they intended to hire (5%) or increasing waiting periods (2%) in response to the employer shared responsibility provision which took effect for some firms this year. [Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 9/22/15]

Kaiser Survey Consistent With Previous Findings That ACA Has “Had Virtually No Adverse Effect” On Employment. According to an August 2015 study by the Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the ACA has “had virtually no adverse effect on labor force participation, employment, or usual hours worked per week through 2014.” In particular, the study found that total employment for working-age adults was 1.8 percentage points higher than expected, which is “inconsistent with predictions that the ACA would decrease employment”:

We find that the ACA had virtually no adverse effect on labor force participation, employment, or usual hours worked per week through 2014. This conclusion is true for ACA policies overall and for the Medicaid expansions in particular, and it applies to the full sample of nonelderly persons and to the subgroup of nonelderly persons with a high school education or less who are more likely to be affected by the ACA.

For nonelderly adults with a high school education or less, we find that employment in 2014 is 1.8 percentage points higher than what would be expected given the rates of unemployment, demographic characteristics and pre-existing time trends. This finding is inconsistent with predictions that the ACA would decrease employment.

Also for nonelderly adults with a high school education or less, we find that part-time employment is higher than expected by 0.5 percentage points. This finding is consistent with some predictions that the ACA would increase part-time work, but may also reflect the continuing recovery in the labor market. This difference is sufficiently small, however, that we find no evidence of a change in the number of hours worked in 2014 and thus no overall change in labor supply beyond what would be expected.

The ACA's Medicaid expansions had virtually no effect on labor market outcomes through the end of 2014. This finding is consistent with the best available previous evidence, which suggests any effects of Medicaid expansions on employment are likely to be small. [Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, August 2015]

Health Policy Experts Never Expected That Obamacare Would Threaten Jobs. According to a March 2011 study from the Urban Institute, the ACA was never expected to “have [a] noticeable effect” on the job market:

[T]he ACA will not have [a] noticeable effect on net levels of employment for three reasons -- (1) the net new expenditures are too small relative to the overall size of the economy; (2) the negative effects on jobs of Medicare premium cuts and new taxes will be offset by the expansion of coverage through Medicaid and income related subsidies that will likely increase employment; and (3) the new law will not affect the most firms either because they already provide private insurance that meets federal standards or they are exempt from the new requirements because they employ fewer than 50 workers. [Urban Institute, March 2011]

Fox News, Wall Street Journal Spent 5 Years Pretending That Obamacare Threatened American Jobs

Fox's MacCallum Claimed “Companies Are Not Hiring” Because Of Obamacare. On the June 15 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, host Martha MacCallum falsely claimed that “businesses you talk to all across the country” have confirmed that “companies are not hiring” new workers for open positions because of the ACA. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 6/15/15]

Wall Street Journal Labeled Obamacare A “Job Destroyer.” In response to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report predicting that the ACA would allow millions of Americans to choose to work less, The Wall Street Journal spun the report as proof that health care reform was a “job destroyer that is removing rungs from the ladder of upward economic mobility.” [The Wall Street Journal, 2/4/14]

Fox's Varney Claimed ACA Has “Shifted The Whole Concept Of Work” And Amounted To “A Complete Reversal Of American Work Ethic.” On the February 5, 2014 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox Business host Stuart Varney used the CBO report to criticize health reform, claiming that the reduction in workers' hours was “a complete reversal of the American work ethic” and that the law has “shifted the whole concept of work.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/5/14]

WSJ's Stephen Moore Warned Of A Part-Time Jobs Boom That Never Came. In 2013, then-Wall Street Journal editorial board member Stephen Moore repeatedly claimed that the ACA was directly responsible for supposedly meager job creation and a shift from full-time to part-time work. On the October 23, 2013 edition of Fox News' America's News HQ, Moore acknowledged that the part-time job growth he predicted was not yet outpacing full-time job growth, before then incorrectly predicting that a part-time spike would “probably” occur “next year [in 2014].” [Media Matters, 10/23/13]

Fox Panel Blames Obamacare For Non-Existent Surge In Part-Time Work. On the August 21 edition of Fox News' Your World, host Neil Cavuto was joined by Fox Business contributor Elizabeth MacDonald and right-wing publishing magnate Steve Forbes to discuss claims that “companies are increasingly blaming [Obamacare] for the rise in part-time work.” The panel agreed that the ACA had created a surge in part-time work, despite the fact that virtually all contemporary evidence suggested that the law's impact on the labor market was either negligible or non-existent. [Media Matters, 8/21/13]

Fox Nation Falsely Claims That Obamacare “Will Cost 800,000 Jobs.” On February 10, 2011, in response to congressional testimony from CBO director Douglas Elmendorf, Fox Nation reposted a column from the conservative Weekly Standard falsely claiming that Obamacare “will cost 800,000 jobs.” Elmendorf's actual testimony specified that the law would reduce the amount of labor workers chose to supply, not that it would reduce the demand for their work. [Media Matters, 2/11/11]

Fox's Johnson: “A Lot Of People” Are Worried That “Jobs Are Going To Be Lost.” On the January 19, 2011 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, contributor Peter Johnson Jr. claimed that “a lot of people are saying... 'I believe jobs are going to be lost'” as a result of Obamacare. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/19/11]

Fox Promotes Misleading Republican Report That Obamacare Would Kill At Least 800,000 Jobs. In October 2010, Fox News promoted a misleading study produced by Republican Sens. Tom Coburn and John Barrasso, which claimed that health care reform would result in “hundreds of thousands of jobs being lost” based on the senators' misinterpretation of a CBO estimate. Fox figures jumped on the study to claim the law would destroy up to 800,000 American jobs, and “perhaps more.” [Media Matters,10/28/10]