PART TIME EMPLOYMENT
The opponents of Obama-care just will not give up. Just because all of their claims of disaster over the last few years have been proven wrong they continue to repeat every claims that they think does not make them look foolish.
The latest example is John R. Graham of the Independent Institute who claims that Obama-care is hurting employment because of rising part time employment.
But I would suggest he really ought to look at the data. Part time employment has a very strong cyclical pattern.
It’s share of employment rises sharply in recession and declines in recoveries.
A major part of this cyclical swing is driven by changes in employment in different sectors. For example, the average workweek in retail is 30.1 hours, almost exactly where it has been for decades. In leisure and hospitality it is 25.2 hours and in education it is 32.0 hours, where they have been for decades. But in manufacturing the average workweek is 42.1 versus 39.7 at the recession bottom. In construction it is now 39.6 hours as compared to 38.8 hours at the recession bottom. So when the cyclical downturn causes employment in the strongly cyclical like manufacturing and construction while employment in the industries that traditionally use a lot of part time employes remains relatively stable the share of part time employees in total employment rises sharply. This is why the chart shows that part time employment’s share of total employment rose sharply in the Reagan and Bush recessions. It is also why part time employment share of total employment has fallen under Obama — it is a perfectly normal cyclical economic pattern.
(chart below the fold)
The commentary by such people as John R. Graham is a beautiful example of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing. The researchers at the right wing think tanks scour the economic releases for anything that they can spin to sell their point of view. But for the most part they do not really understand what they are writing. But of course, their target audience knows even less than they do so they buy the right wing research tanks assertions hook line and sinker. I really do not have a major problem with the general public being mislead by such shoddy research– that is what politicians do. What I really object to is the reporters from major newspapers repeating this biased research without any understanding of why it is wrong.
Oh were it a simple case of media ignorance. You have many major news outlets with agenda’s–FOX is the clearest example and that network just plain makes stuff up to fit its agenda. Then you have the outlets which try to be “balanced” or “moderate” and they will simply counterbalance talking points without critical examination. At the end of the day media is out to sell its product and not to get anything right.
When profit becomes the objective, truth goes out the window.
It might help to further emphasize the idiotic character of the Republicans’ position regarding the health care legislation if people who support that legislation would stop using right-wing propagandist labeling, as in Obama Care. It isn’t Obama’s legislation beyond the fact that he supported said legislation and signed it into law as the President. It’s the Affordable Care Act. Call it the Affordable Care Act so that it brings to mind that it is actually a piece, large as it may be, of legislation passed by both the House and the Senate. It is not the personal property of Barack Obama. It’s not the best health care legislation that could have been passed, but it is legislation enacted by the Congress of the United States. I repeat, it’s not Obama Care. It is the Affordable Care Act. Call it by what it is, not by what a bunch of asses in the Republican Party would like it to be viewed as, a piece of legislation passed by the President, who by the way has no such authority. Remember words count. Words create ideas in the minds of the listeners. One may not like Obama, but the health care legislation is not one and the same with him. So stop using the propagandized terminology of the Republican Party and Fox News. Call it the Affordable Care Act. Do so often enough and people might begin to accept that that is what it is rather than being something that Obama forced on the nation.
But it requires someone to be proactive and use strong enough language to make it difficult for the media outlet to avoid using it. “Ridiculous,” “dishonest” or “false” are words that come to mind). If Democrats actually had a real long-term strategy, the second the right-wing “think/propaganda tank” issues one of these silly claims, someone would be on the phone with editors and reporters known to be likely to cover the story, describing the claim as “ridiculous” with a simple, brief sound-byte-worthy explanation (“It’s completely false. Part-time job numbers are actually coming down as the job market continues to improve”), and demanding that a quotation to that effect be included in the report. If the publication refuses, demand again, and again and again until they routinely give truly balanced reporting of right-wing claims like this.
But you have to have a strategy and undertake the effort to create the infrastructure for executing the strategy.
Below is link to good article on the OP’s topic.
Certainly there could be other reasons (last paragraph of article) for the percentage of jobs of core group, workers aged 25-54, being part-time, but IMO too early to rule out PPACA being a factor, especially since employer mandate was delayed. We haven’t seen what one could expect to be the greatest factor: employers actually being forced to pay up. Thus far any effect on %PT employment resulting from PPACA would be the knowledge that the employer mandate provision would take effect in the future.
Has there been a step change? We won’t know until more data comes in. Possibly the trend the OP cites will continue downward to the recent normal range, but the numbers are still historically high well into the recovery.
If you like your statistics, you can keep your statistics? While I agree with much of the OP’s article, it strikes me that had the media reported in an unbiased manner on PPACA from the start, the transparent falsehoods told by its supporters would have sunk it. It is a bit late for PPACA supporters to start asking the media to do its job as the unbiased reporter of facts.
What is known:
1) Surge in part-time employment was triggered by the recession, not by the Affordable Care Act.
2) Trend in %part -time jobs is going downward,
3) However %part-time still well above recent levels even though we are well into the recovery phase of the economic cycle.
4) The provision of Obamacare that could be expected to have greatest effect on PT vs FT employment was delayed by Obama fiat.
5)Other factors may be in play, so even if the %PT employment does not fall back to recent normal levels, the cause might not be due to PPACA alone.
Mike, I do not have any problem with what you said.
But if you go to the article I referenced it claimed that the ACA was already causing a surge in part time employment that was negatively impacting total employment.
Moreover, that claim is the conventional wisdom among many right wingers and/or republicans. I would have no trouble finding numerous article making that claim.
If you look closely at the data you will see that the large spike in % part time employment was right at Obama’s inauguration point and again back in 1981 which was another moderate recession period. So I would say that in filtering out all the static and background noise the PPACA looks to me to be only the latest political scape goat or at best a new variable to be mixed in with the many other possible stand alone variables of blame. The best picture view we are seeing today of PPACA as always is the sum of its total variable. Therefore we should include them all as possible factors but not to be placing too much emphasis on any one variable. We know that most the media today does not do this subjective filtering for us but plays the music to a whole different tune.
Ryan, I think you need to take another look at the data.
From the Oct, 2007 local bottom to the Apr 2009 peak part time employment rose 17.8%. From the 2007 bottom till Obama’s inauguration part time employment rose 16.6%. So 93% of the recession induced surge in part time employment occurred before Obama took office.
How you can say the spike in part time employment was right as Obama took office is beyond me? The recession ended in June 2009,
a couple of months after the peak in part time employment.
The spike in part time employment was completely a function of the recession and had nothing to do with Obama or his policies.
The 1981 and 2008 recessions were the two most severe recessions since WWII. Calling them moderate recession is just plain wrong.
You are sadly misinformed.
You really do have to distinguish between voluntary and involuntary part-time. In fact, voluntary part-time has risen in the last year, most likely because young parents don’t have to work full-time to get health care insurance [The Affordable Care Act: A Family-Friendly Policy ] Back where I took my economics, this was considered a good thing — people have the opportunity to spend time with their kids.
Involuntary part-time employment has been falling throughout the recovery. Anyhow, it is crucial to distinguish between the two. There is no economic reason to be upset about people voluntarily opting to work part-time.
I made the adjustment to your comment so the readers could link automatically to your Issue Brief.
I was looking at both tables 1 & 2 in your brief. The increase (percentage) is so slight in voluntary increases of working fewer hours, it is hardly worth making an argument over. I think Spencer might agree, it is a bigger issue only in the eye of the beholder who makes it such issue and assigns it as a detriment as caused by the PPACA. Even then the bulk of the increase is with women (as you have pointed out) which I believe most conservatives might what them at home with their children? Good paper which I will save when I am discussing the PPACA sir, which I do quite often.
Run, “Good paper which I will save when I am discussing the PPACA sir, which I do quite often.”
Thank you for using the correct terminology. It drives me to distraction when I see well meaning “liberals” adopting the propagandist terminology of the right wing media and their Republican cohorts.