February 26, 2014
Another ObamaCare Victim?

Nina Shapiro's article on minimum wage workers in Seattle included these two paragraphs:

But [Jason] Harvey's career has gone the other direction.  While his hourly wage has not gone down, his hours have, dramatically--from nearly 40 a week to 28, due to cuts implemented throughout the franchise early last year.  Harvey says he was told at the time that the reason was a looming provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires employers to provide health insurance for staffers working at least 30 hours.

[Mark] Escamilla, however, maintains that the cuts derived not from Obamacare but from a change in ownership that moved the franchise toward a part-time model.  (Escamilla was part of the old ownership group as well.)  "It gives us flexibility," he says.  During busy periods, restaurants can tap into a pool of part-timers, whereas under the old full-time model, staffers would have to work overtime, according to Escamilla.  His franchise is not alone.   Part-time staffing has become pervasive throughout the fast-food industry, and is one reason why workers' incomes are so low, according to Jacobs, the U.C. Berkeley researcher.

Given that 28 hours and the timing, the first explanation is more plausible than the second.  That 28 is the number of hours chosen by many employers who wish to escape ObamaCare.  And, as we all know, blaming anything on Obama will get you in trouble in Seattle, so the manager would have reason to say that ObamaCare was not his motive for cutting Harvey's hours.

Cross posted at Jim Miller on Politics.

(Some perspective:  Assuming he works 50 weeks a year, 28 hours a week, Harvey's yearly income would be above the official poverty line, $11,940 a year for a single person,  (Last year, the minimum wage in Washington state was $9.19 an hour; this year, it is $9.32.)

Harvey would probably be better off if he could find a similar job in a place with a lower cost of living, even though he has a subsidized apartment.  He might be better off in other ways, too.  As we all know — okay, as we all should know — cities can damage a person's mental health.

You can find some international perspective in this post.

Most of you will find the full Shapiro article worth reading, though I do fear that she may have left out some of the more interesting details.)

Posted by Jim Miller at February 26, 2014 07:40 AM | Email This