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Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

More Unintended Consequences (or at least I hope they're unintended)

Political, Employment, Quality of Life, U.S., Healthcare

Unemployment numbers continue to hover in the range of 7.0% to 7.3% month-to-month.  This does not reflect the numbers of people no longer trying to find employment.  Additionally, there is a seldom shown unemployment number that includes those both unemployed and seeking work as well as those under-employed.  That number is hovering between 17.0% and 18.0%.  An under-employed person is one who is employed on a less-than-full-time basis.  He or she is working but needs to be able to earn more than the part-time job will pay in many cases.

The Affordable Care Act (a/k/a ObamaCare) is likely to exacerbate the under-employed numbers given that it establishes 30 hours as the new norm for full time employment in order to obtain health insurance coverage through one’s employer.  Presumably those who wrote this into the language of the bill were not thinking about the impact this might have on hours worked, but instead were thinking that more people would qualify for employer-offered coverage.

There are too often unintended consequences about which we learn once a law is actually in place.  Among the unintended consequences of ObamaCare is the way in which some employers will move hours worked to get beneath the magic mark of 30 hours per week.  How many people will this affect?  That is hard to determine, but it is more likely to affect those earning lower wages than it is to affect those earning higher wages.  The lower the wage, the more likely it is that an employer can find workers that already possess the necessary skills or that can be quickly trained to a minimum necessary skill level.

This can almost be likened to the minimum wage and its impact upon hiring.  Those most in need of more than the minimum wage are the same people whose skills are such that they can’t qualify for a higher paying job.  Many politicians seem to be ignorant of the impact that higher minimum wages have on employers and on employees.  They are, too often, so far removed from the realities of the real world marketplace as to be unable to comprehend how what they do will impact those whom they try to help.

We now have a double-edged sword in that many employers whose payrolls are comprised of larger numbers of lower-paid employees will not only not raise the hourly wage but who will also now be encouraged by the new law to lower the number of hours worked per employee to something less than 30 hours per week or 130 hours per month.

This will do nothing for the people who need helping but it almost assuredly will increase the under-employed numbers since the new ObamaCare laws are technically now in effect and employers begin to implement their new workplace rules in order to be able to stay in business and offer products priced to be affordable to their customers.  That not only includes fast food but may other places of employment such as retail employers, service sector employers, and so on.

This ignores the fact that slightly more than 42% of adults in America are working to support the other 58% through the taxes they pay.  In spite of this, we see that ‘emergency’ unemployment payments will be extended so those who have become accustomed to not working can continue to not work.  Those 42 of every 100 of us are going to have to work a lot harder to keep up with the demands being made on them.  Hope their hours don’t get cut below 30 hours per week.

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