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Administration economists deny PPACA has hurt job market

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Two economists allied with the Obama administration are rejecting the argument that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has hurt the U.S. labor market.

Instead, they argue the federal health law has done the opposite and spurred full-time job growth.

“The Affordable Care Act continues to improve the functioning of labor markets in a range of ways including helping to slow the growth of premiums, creating affordable new options for small businesses, reducing the ‘job lock’ that can keep workers from taking the best job for them, and generally improving health outcomes and reducing absenteeism,” Jay Furman, chair of the president’s Council of Economic Advisors, and Betsey Stevenson, another council member, wrote in a White House blog entry.

They wrote that since PPACA has become law, 91 percent of U.S. jobs have been full-time positions, not part-time.

Because PPACA mandates that employers with 50 or more fulltime workers provide health coverage to those workers or pay a penalty, some PPACA opponents have argued that employers are cutting back hours on full and part-time workers.

But the economists said that over the past 12 months, 86 percent of the increase in employment has been due to full-time work.

“The mix of full-time and part-time employment has been typical for an economic recovery,” Furman and Stevenson wrote.

They cited an analysis suggesting the share of employees working part-time is slightly below the level observed in the early 1980s.

In addition, the number of people working part-time involuntarily seems to have dropped over the past 12 months, especially in the private sector, the economists said.

Restaurants have been visible in the battle against the PPACA employer coverage mandate, but the economists argued that job growth there has been especially strong.

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