Smell Something, Say Something: Obamacare, O’Reilly, and full-time jobs

September 25th, 2015 at 4:10 pm

And Jon sayeth unto the multitudes: “The best defense against bullsh__ is vigilance. So if you smell something, say something.”

This admonition came to mind, if not to nose, when I heard Fox’s Bill O’Reilly claim that the Affordable Care Act “has made it more difficult to create full-time jobs in America,” (around 2:30 in the video). The figure below, which indexes both full-time and part-time jobs to 100 in 2010, belies his claim. As ACA measures have been introduced, most notably the arrival of the subsidized exchanges and the Medicaid expansion in 2014, there’s been no noticeable change and certainly no Obamacare-induced shift to part-time work. Other data show that the number of involuntary part-time workers is down 18 percent—1.4 million fewer workers—since 2013.


Source: BLS, my analysis

No one’s claiming that the ACA is having miraculous effects on job growth, or even that it’s responsible for the full-time job growth you see above. Such outcomes are based on all the usual factors that drive labor demand, most notably the strength of the recovery.

My point is that while Obamacare is having its intended effect of making coverage more affordable and thereby lowering the uninsured rate, I’ve not seen any data that would lead an objective person to conclude it’s having a meaningful impact on the job market one way or the other.

In other words, those who still want to repeal Obamacare need a new rationale besides “it’s not working” or “it’s a job killer.” It is working and it’s not killing jobs. Those who claim otherwise are, in fact, fact-killers.

To be clear, I’m not going to waste a lot of time fact-checking Fox news, but I smelled something…I said something. And now, let the weekend begin!

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5 comments in reply to "Smell Something, Say Something: Obamacare, O’Reilly, and full-time jobs"

  1. Larry Signor says:

    Repeal the ACA? That’s a bad joke. The ACA has certainly been job creating legislation. Hospitals have adapted on a patient care verification level, a technological level and a quality of care level by adding staff, primarily. Physicians have adapted as well, adding nursing staff and technology staff or services. These changes have improved the quality of health care (which should be deflationary) and enhanced the economy. I would argue that a large percentage of job growth and GDP growth in the last five years is attributable to the ACA. The real question is, “has the GOP done anything nearly as effective in the same five years?”.

  2. Amateur says:

    Obamacare is good legislation. But it was a very small step. Given the political difficulties in getting passed, one might think this was a quantum leap into communism!

    It will never cease to amaze me how seemingly smart people cannot grasp macroeconomic arguments to save their lives. They only understand immediate business decisions. They only see the micro decisions. They only see delusions.

    Bill seems like a smart guy in his demeanor, but he doesn’t seem smart in his ideas. In fact, he seems pretty dumb. Leave it to Fox news to make starts of dumb people.

    I would suggest one of the best ways to fight Fox news is for people to switch from Direct TV to Dish Network, and ask Dish to remove Fox news from your subscription. I did it. Direct TV is owned by the same NewsCorp conglomerate of Rupert Murdock.

    Don’t use Direct TV! It is the most direct path to boycott messaging.

  3. Robert Salzberg says:

    Yo JB, your buddy Dean Baker has pointed out that the ACA has increased voluntary part-time work. I’m one of those people who is living the dream of working in Florida in the Winter and Maine in the Summer. Reliable insurance through the ACA was one of the reasons I switched from full-time to gig work. (I got a 15% raise by quitting the full-time Florida job I held for 11 years and going PRN. Yes, I factored in my benefits.)

    The ACA has also generally increased employment in health care. Doesn’t increasing voluntary part-time employment and increasing health care employment count as having a “meaningful impact on the job market”?

    DId you mean a meaningful negative effect?

    • Jared Bernstein says:

      I agree with Dean on this point, though I’m not sure how large the effect is. I too have noted the increase in vol PT while invol PT is falling. Hard though to sort out which part of that is recovery and which part ACA unlocking job lock for full-timers who want to go pt. My point is that there’s no case that the ACA has broadly hurt labor demand.

      If you want to be “greedy” and make the case that it’s booosted labor demand–you may be right!

  4. steve says:

    Compare it to the Bush administration, where growth in private employment was NEGATIVE despite all those tax cuts, lack of regulatory enforcement, etc.