ObamaCare may not be fully implemented yet, but the Law of Unintended (or not so unintended) Consequences has taken full effect:
In some cases we’ve heard about, a local McDonalds has hired employees to operate the cash register or flip burgers for 20 hours a week and then the workers head to the nearby Burger King or Wendy’s to log another 20 hours. Other employees take the opposite shifts.
Welcome to the strange new world of small-business hiring under ObamaCare.
Employers that pass the 50-employee threshold and don’t offer insurance face a $2,000 penalty for each uncovered worker beyond 30 employees. So by hiring the 50th worker, the firm pays a penalty on the previous 20 as well.
Can you imagine anyone writing such a stupid law? Nancy Pelosi couldn’t; she still doesn’t know what’s in it.
Because other federal employment regulations also kick in when a firm crosses the 50 worker threshold, employers are starting to cap payrolls at 49 full-time workers. These firms have come to be known as “49ers.” Businesses that hire young and lower-skilled workers are also starting to put a ceiling on the work week of below 30 hours. These firms are the new “29ers.” Part-time workers don’t have to be offered insurance under ObamaCare.
The mandate to offer health insurance doesn’t take effect until 2014, but the “measurement period” used by the feds to determine a firm’s average number of full-time employees started last month. So the cutbacks and employment dodges are underway.
Who’s doing the “measuring”? A legion of federal bureaucrats poking around the deep fryer? IRS agents sifting through the Happy Meal receipts?
We call this government?
Many franchisees of Burger King, McDonalds, Red Lobster, KFC, Dunkin’ Donuts and Taco Bell have started to cut back on full-time employment, though many are terrified to talk on the record. Activist groups have organized boycotts against Darden Restaurants, which owns Olive Garden and Red Lobster, for daring to publicly criticize ObamaCare. It’s safer to quietly dodge the new costs and avoid becoming a political target.
I strongly support gay marriage, but I supported Chick-Fil-A even more strongly after being hazed and pilloried for daring to speak out against it. If poultry pogroms are how we deal with controversies in this country, it’s no wonder we have the government we have.
The timing of all this couldn’t be worse. Involuntary part-time U.S. employment is already near a record high. The latest Department of Labor employment survey counts roughly eight million Americans who want a full-time job but are stuck in a part-time holding pattern. That number is down only 520,000 since January 2010 and it is 309,000 higher than last March. (See the nearby chart.) And now comes ObamaCare to increase the incentive for employers to hire only part-time workers.
You’ve read this dozens of times: we’ve been in recovery since June 2009—barely four months into Obama’s first term, so little or no thanks to him. The recovery we have, however—wheezy and sclerotic—is all his.