Obamacare Isn’t Limiting U.S. Job Growth, Administration Says

There is no economic evidence the U.S. health-care overhaul is slowing employment, Obama administration officials said, pushing back against Republican characterizations the law is killing jobs.

U.S. employers have added about 7.2 million jobs since February 2010, and employment growth in industries with low levels of health insurance coverage has outpaced that of companies more likely to cover their workers, a senior administration official said at a briefing for reporters. The official asked not to be named under terms of the briefing.

President Barack Obama’s health-care law seeks to expand coverage to most of the nation’s 50 million uninsured people. About 7 million people are expected to enroll in health plans offered by new online marketplaces next year, rising to 25 million by 2018, according to the Congressional Budget Office. States are encouraged to expand their Medicaid programs for the poor to cover people earning close to poverty-level wages.

Republicans who control the House of Representatives are expected to vote for the 38th time this week on legislation that would undermine the law. They voted July 17 to delay enforcement of dual requirements in the law that most Americans carry insurance and large employers provide it to their workers.

“The president’s health-care law is a job-killing train wreck that is already hurting America’s economy,” House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican of Ohio, said in a statement after those votes.

Mandate Delay

The administration on July 2 announced a delay until 2015 of the requirement that large businesses insure their workers, in response to complaints from business lobbying groups.

Industries such as hospitality, waste services and retail are “low-coverage,” where rank-and-file workers are unlikely to enjoy health benefits, the White House said in a document distributed at yesterday’s briefing. Those companies are considered more sensitive to the Affordable Care Act than industries that already insure their workers.

If the health law were slowing job creation, “then one would expect weaker job growth” in those industries because of the law’s requirement to provide insurance, the administration said in the document.

Instead, employment in “low-coverage industries” has grown 8.3 percent since February 2010, according to the document. Employment in industries with health benefits has been slower, growing 5.8 percent.

Workers’ Hours

Workers’ hours also haven’t been cut because of the law, contrary to Republican assertions, the administration official said. The health law requires companies employing 50 or more workers to insure full-time employees, defined as those working 30 hours or more. An economic outlook survey published by the Federal Reserve reported in July that several retailers in Chicago claimed the law “would lead to more part-time and temporary versus full-time hiring.”

Workers’ hours in retail industries such as restaurants, electronics and home furnishings increased since March 2010, when Obama signed the health law, according to the White House document. An increase in part-time workers reported last month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics was probably due largely to furloughs by the federal government, which took place about the same time as the employment survey, the official said.

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