Sunday, October 12, 2014

More and more part time...

Last Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal article, “Everyday Low Benefits,” describes the “dumping” of employer provided health benefits to many of Wal Mart’s low skilled, low paid, part time employees.  The point was to stress the unintended consequences of Obamacare as it has made it easier for employers to eliminate those who work less than 30 hours per week from companies’ health plans.

Much has been written about Obamacare’s incentives for retailers and restaurants and others whose labor force is predominantly part time.  In addition to making it “easier” for employers to send part timers to the exchanges, the law motivates employers to the proportion of its workforce that is categorized as part time.  

It could  be tempting for my young friends entering college/currently in college/recently out of college/of the young adult age to believe that these practices won’t affect them.  But many of us, regardless of whether we went to college, where we went to college, or whether or not we graduated can truthfully be described as “low skilled” at that time in our lives.

I think of the “office worker” jobs my peers and I held after college.  We looked at information, prepared reports and attempted to make judgements and present ideas.  In hindsight, much of our activities were repetitive and much of our input had little value because of our lack of experience.  We were full time workers with company provided health care.

Today these services can literally be purchased by the hour.  Zirtual provides about one hour per day of dedicated “virtual assistant” services for under $5,000 per year.  So companies will not only have the Obamacare incentives to contract out work piece meal, there are also easy and cheap ways to make the “low-skilled” workforce more and more part time.  And we may need to rethink the definition of “low-skilled.”  I know that 15 years after college graduation I feel like I am pretty low-skilled at times.  So recognizing this and taking advantages of all the opportunities to learn and experience new things will hopefully allow us to capitalize on whatever trends come our way.

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