Duke survey says firms will cut back on hiring because of health care law

Posted by John Murawski on December 11, 2013 

Top corporate executives say the Affordable Care Act, which requires most Americans to buy health insurance, will result in lower hiring at their companies.

Some executives say they will hire fewer employees; others say they will probably tilt toward hiring part-timers over full-timers. About 10 percent say the law, commonly called Obamacare, will cause layoffs at their companies.

The responses from U.S. chief financial officers, released Wednesday, were part of the most recent Business Outlook Survey, a quarterly economic measure taken by Duke University and CFO Magazine. They said nearly a third of employers will experience slower hiring.

“Our survey points to a more detrimental and potentially long-lasting problem,” said John Graham, a Duke Fuqua School of Business finance professor and director of the survey. “An unintended consequence of the Affordable Care Act will be a reduction in full-time employment growth in the United States.”

Companies still plan to increase full-time employment in 2014, but at a slower pace than they would have if the law were not in place, the survey said. The hiring reductions are not expected to increase the unemployment rate and the economy is expected to grow next year, the survey said.

The CFOs in the survey are not identified.

The Duke/CFO Magazine survey doesn’t explain why the new health care law would reduce hiring. People who work at companies that provide insurance to their employees, and those who are insured through Medicare and Medicaid, are not immediately affected by the law.

Directly affected are the uninsured and people who buy individual insurance. In North Carolina, roughly a million people are expected to shop for insurance as a result of the law.

In 2015 the law will require employers with at least 50 workers to provide insurance to full-time employees or pay penalties. Some say that provision will create a disincentive to expand beyond 50 full-timers and encourage companies to hire part-time workers instead.

Staff writer John Murawski

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