Is full-time hiring being impacted by the Affordable Care Act?August 5, 2013 | Posted at 10:22 am
In terms of engendering discussion amongst various industry sectors, the Affordable Care Act can be seen as one of the more important factors in the recruiting or hiring marketplace.
Originally signed into law by President Barrack Obama in 2010 as part of an overhaul of the healthcare industry in the United States, it is probably fair to say that some of its aims and intentions have been lost in translation. Dubbed by many as “Obamacare,” there is a consensus among economic analysts and financial professionals that it will have an impact on full-time employment rates in the country, with analysts looking for answers in a number of places.
Effect on hiring
According to Forbes, the accounting industry is one that has voiced its concerns, with a recent survey of professionals by Sageworks – a financial information and analysis company based in Raleigh, North Carolina – showing that a majority felt that ACA would hamper hiring in the next 12 months. The major worry has always been that the legislation would force employers to provide healthcare coverage for full-time employees or face a financial penalty, a belief that hasn’t gone away even after the federal government delayed its implementation until 2015.
“The recent delay in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and the uncertainty that accompanies such a delay, won’t help the employment situation,” said Brian Hamilton, chairman of Sageworks, according to the news source. “Private businesses are trying to map out their hiring and investment plans for the next twelve months, and a last-minute delay like this will increase the likelihood that companies remain on the fence about hiring.”
The study, conducted among 300 accounting staff who work for or with private companies, showed that 66 percent of respondents believed that the anticipated changes would make it less likely that firms would be increasing their workforce, with 30 percent either unsure or considering that it would have no impact.
Maintaining workforce level
However, these figures are countered with a more general feeling that, despite the potential effects of the ACA on companies with more than 50 employees, the hiring sector will continue to remain buoyant in the next year. According to the news source, the same question was asked but without the stipulation for healthcare changes and the responses showed a significant difference of opinion.
Over 60 percent of respondents said that their companies would maintain the same workforce level while only 12 percent answered that staff numbers were likely to drop. While this is not a ringing endorsement for the ongoing recovery, some believe that companies are using healthcare legislation as a reason to hire part-time or contract workers, despite evidence that full-time employment has continued to rise since 2009.
Recently, however, the White House has denied that companies are only hiring part-time employees who would not be covered under ACA.
Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that, according to The Washington Post, 96 percent of U.S. firms with more than 50 employees already offer some level of healthcare cover or insurance, while 90 percent of employment since Obamacare passed – with the same stipulations – in March 2010 has been on a permanent basis.
Judging the data
What is clear is that until the legislation is actually implemented, the number of people employed on either a full or part-time basis will be very much down to the companies themselves. According to the news source, the problem is not so much with the ACA itself, but with the lack of data available to judge how it will affect the job marketplace in the next 18 months.
“It will take probably three years of data to understand fully how Obamacare has affected labor markets,” noted University of Chicago professor Casey B. Milligan, in a interview with the Post. “I don’t look at what people say they will do. What economists study is what people actually do.”