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Obamacare Is Affecting Everyone


Millions of people are out of work and can’t find a job. Many of those who have jobs are being forced to work part-time instead of full-time. And those who have full-time jobs are in for a nasty surprise. Next year’s take-home pay is like likely to be smaller than what they earn right now.

In all cases the reason is the same: Obamacare.

Why can’t people find a job? Three Federal Reserve Banks—in Philadelphia, New York and Atlanta—have released business surveys that confirm what many of us have been predicting. The new health law is discouraging a significant number of firms from hiring and is also pushing workers into part-time, rather than full time jobs.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia survey of business in its region finds that because of Obamacare:

  • 18.2% of employers say they cut workers versus 3.0 percent who hired more.
  • 18.2% say the proportion of part-time workers is higher versus 1.5% who say it is lower.
  • 13.7% reported more outsourcing to other firms versus 3% with less outsourcing.

The New York Fed found that because of Obamacare:

  • 21% of manufacturers say they are reducing employment, while 3% are increasing their workforce.
  • Among manufacturers, 19.3% say they are increasing the proportion of part-time work, while 3.5% say they are reducing it.

An Atlanta Fed poll earlier this month found that 34% of businesses planned to hire more part-time workers than in the past, mostly because of a rise in the relative costs of their full-time colleagues.

As for the impact of Obamacare on health care costs, more than one third of manufacturers told the New York Fed that Obamacare is increasing costs “a lot” this year and more than half say the health law will increase costs a lot next year.

So what are employers doing about it? They are shifting more of the direct cost of employee health insurance to their workers. The New York survey found that because of Obamacare:

  • Almost three-fourths of employers are increasing the employee contribution for health insurance;
  • 84% are increasing the deductible;
  • 79% are increasing copayments; and
  • 40% are reducing the range of covered benefits.

In a previous column I reported on academic studies of the degree to which Obamacare will cause people to work less and produce less:

University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan estimates Obamacare lowers the return from working by 10%. As Harvard economics professor Greg Mankiw explains, that implies a long term loss to the economy on the order of 5% of GDP—or more than $800 billion a year at current prices. The indirect cost to the economy, then, equals more than $8,000 per household per year.

See more on this and other unfortunate developments at my post at Forbes.

Other than that, have a great Labor Day weekend.

John C. Goodman is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute, President of the Goodman Institute for Public Policy Research, and author of the widely acclaimed, new Independent book, A Better Choice: Healthcare Solutions for America, and the award-winning Independent book, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis, both from the Independent Institute. The Wall Street Journal and the National Journal, among other media, have called him the “Father of Health Savings Accounts.”

  New from John C. Goodman!
PRICELESS: Curing the Healthcare Crisis
To cure the ailments of American healthcare we must get rid of the perverse incentives that raise costs, reduce quality, and make care hard to access. We must allow a free-market price system to emerge, so that the laws of supply and demand will work to the benefit of patients and providers alike.

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