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Tuesday, October 1, 2013
NewsBusters' Sheppard Promotes False Claim Attacking Obamacare
Topic: NewsBusters

Noel Sheppard's reign of error continues in a Sept. 29 NewsBusters post uncritically touting Mort Zuckerman's claim that "88 percent of the jobs that have been created this year are part-time jobs. A large part of the reason for that number of part-time jobs which is unprecedented in American history is because people are apprehensive about the impact of ObamaCare on and the costs of ObamaCare on full-time jobs." Sheppard endorsed Zuckerman's claim by touting how he had "harsh words for the President's signature piece of legislation."

But had Sheppard bothered to do any  research before copying-and-pasting Zuckerman's transcript, he would know that Zuckerman is wrong.

As the Christian Science Monitor points out, the number of part-time jobs created in the U.S. this year is actually around 60 percent, and a Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco study suggests that part-time work as a share of all jobs was not unprecedented, although unusually persistent.

Further, according to the Monitor, it's not clear at all what link, if any, the number of part-time jobs has to do with Obamacare:

Using part-time jobs to judge the strength of a recovery is a little misleading, anyway. Most people work part-time because they choose to, not because a bad economy is forcing them to. According to the BLS, 18.9 million workers in August worked part-time for noneconomic reasons (they had to take care of children or other family members, attend school, keep their earnings below certain Social Security limits, and so on). Only 7.8 million workers worked part time for economic reasons (for example, they couldn’t find work or their hours got cut). It’s this second group of so-called involuntary part-time workers who highlight the weak and unsatisfying economic recovery now under way.


There’s strong anecdotal evidence that some employers are cutting back employee hours below 30 to avoid having to pay health benefits. Investor’s Business Daily has cataloged 258 employers who appear to have made the move. Other companies have cited economic reasons for cutting their employees’ hours. The question is: How much of an impact is that having?

“It seems at least clear that some [employers] were shifting their emphasis to part-time workers,” says Rob Valletta, research adviser at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and coauthor of the recent report. “But … it seems pretty small.” Long before Obamacare, employers had an incentive to create part-time jobs to avoid federal tax rules that protected health benefits of full-time workers, he points out. Also, research suggests no more than a rise of 2 percentage points in the incidence of part-time work.

In the grand scheme of things, the Obamacare effect may not loom large. As a share of the total work force, those involuntary part-time workers make up only 5.7 percent of all employed workers, down from a peak of 7.1 percent in September 2010. If anything, the US has a shrinking share of those workers, although we seem to have been treading water since the beginning of 2012.

We'd ask whether Sheppard will correct his post, but he's not into doing that sort of thing lately.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:50 AM EDT

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