One Aspect of the New Employment Numbers

It’s temporary work, whether under contract or not.  It’s also part-time, whether under contract or not (OK, that’s two aspects.  Sue me.)

The nation’s unemployment rate still stands at 7.6%, but there is one area showing significant improvement: temporary and contracting work.

An estimated 17 million people are employed in these areas of the labor force, making up 12% of all employed people in the US.

Here’s a clue of why that is:

Full-time workers come with benefits packages that tend to include health care and retirement plans, which come with a hefty price tag for companies still unsure of the economic recovery.

Health care and pensions—for those employers still using these instead of 401(k)-like retirement plans—are horribly expensive.  And no, this isn’t another anti-Obama screed.  Even before Obamacare and public service union pension-caused city bankruptcies, health and pension benefits were horribly expensive.  The Panic of 2008 just brought those to light, and Obamacare only made a terrible health side worse.

And there’s that uncertainty about this failed recovery and when it will start in earnest.  Here’s James Sherk, senior policy analyst in Labor Economics at The Heritage Foundation:

In many cases, employers are not confident to bring in regular, full-time employees because it may hurt the entire firm.  This is the most disturbing trend, due to the weak economy.  It’s an economy and situation where employers aren’t seeing their shelves pick up, so they won’t commit to hiring a full-time employee.

“Hurt the entire firm.”  This is an area where Obamacare exacerbates an already bad situation.  A full-time employee costs the employer a minimum $2,000 in health benefits—that’s the fine the employer pays for not providing benefits that suit the Federal government’s definition of adequacy.  If the business isn’t there to cover that added cost, the employer would be stupid to hire that employee, at least full-time.

Another downside is that part-time workers or contract workers who know their contract expires in a few months (another version of part-time work) have their own uncertainty about the future—their future.  This makes them less willing to spend the money they do earn until they have to.  That reduced demand lowers the ability of employers to sell their product.  Those reduced sales lower the employers’ interest and ability to hire.  That reduced hiring incentive….

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