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Opinion: Editorials

Examiner Editorial: Obamacare's price: Full-time jobs become part-time

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Photo - President Barack Obama (Getty Images)
President Barack Obama (Getty Images)
Opinion,Editorial

If you are looking for a full-time job, prepare to be disappointed if President Obama wins re-election Tuesday. Since Obama was sworn into office in 2009, the number of Americans with full-time jobs has actually fallen by 370,000. The number of Americans with part-time jobs, by contrast, is up 1.5 million. Jobs are being created in the Obama economy, but they're not the type of jobs Americans can live on. And Obama's policies are clearly contributing to the shift.

Last month, we noted that Darden Restaurants, the parent company of popular chains like Olive Garden and Red Lobster, stopped replacing full-time employees who left the company. Instead, the company announced, it would only be hiring part-timers to meet its staffing needs. The reason? Obamacare. Obama's signature domestic initiative fines employers with 50 or more full-time workers $2,000 for every full-time employee who does not have government-approved health insurance.

Many retail, food service and hospitality firms, including Darden, already offer all of their full-time employees bare-bones health insurance plans. But these plans, which have coverage limits, will become illegal under Obamacare in 2014. Darden and other firms face a stark choice: Buy more expensive health insurance for their full-time employees (which normally costs more than $5,000 for each employee), pay the $2,000 fine or hire fewer full-time workers.

More and more employers are going this last route.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Pillar Hotels and Resorts (parent company of Sheraton and other hotel chains), CKE Restaurants Inc. (parent company of Hardee's and Carl's Jr.) and Anna's Linens Inc. have all started to replace full-time departures with part-time hires. According to a July survey of retail and hospitality companies by Mercer consulting, 32 percent of firms said they were likely to reduce the number of employees working 30 hours or more per week.

Not only does this reduction in hours per worker translate to less take-home pay for the workers who need it most, but a move away from employer-sponsored health insurance will undermine Obamacare's already shaky fiscal foundation. The more people who can find only part-time work, the more people the federal government will have to subsidize through the health insurance exchanges that Obamacare establishes. The Congressional Budget Office assumed that up to 800,000 full-time jobs would be turned into part-time jobs because of Obamacare's employer health mandate fines. If that number is low -- and the surge in part-time employment since Obamacare became law suggests that it is -- then Obamacare's true cost will skyrocket past its already unaffordable $1.76 trillion price tag.

The U.S. economy may have added new jobs every month for the past 32 months, but under Obama's "new normal," part-time jobs may be the "jobs of the future" he keeps talking about.

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