President Obamaâ€™s health care reform is prompting employers to hire more part-time and temporary workers to escape paying benefits under a mandate that goes into effect next year, amplifying a trend toward transient employment that took hold during the recession, according to a growing number of economic indicators.
Hardest hit by the move toward cutting work hours and increasing temporary hiring are lower-income workers, millions of whom already lack health insurance and are afflicted with constant turnover in jobs at fast-food restaurants, big-box retailers and other businesses with large numbers of low-paid staff.
Wal-Mart, the nationâ€™s largest employer, is leading the trend, having increased the share of its temporary staff to 10 percent this year from between 1 percent and 2 percent last year, according to a Reuters survey of 52 Wal-Mart stores last month. It found that half of the stores were hiring only temporary workers â€” something Wal-Mart previously did only during the Christmas shopping season.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. CEO Bill Simon conceded that the company is hiring more â€œflex-timeâ€ workers to hold down costs, though the company denied that it was trying to escape benefit payments under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, often dubbed â€œObamacare.â€ But business analysts say most of the temporary workers at Wal-Mart are unlikely to ever get insurance through the company because it could take up to a year to become eligible and the workforce has a high turnover rate.
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